By Cara Mulcahey, V Form
Johns Hopkins Medicine and Healthcare Summit: A Kean Fellowship Grant
Editor’s Note: This opportunity and article were made possible by the Kean Fellowship Grant. Kean Fellowships will be conferred upon a small number of highly well-qualified students who propose and undertake independent research and study in the field of public service, exploring meaningful domestic public policy issues. Once selected, and on the basis of their topic, Fellows will work with a faculty mentor and find meaningful connections with academicians and leaders in the field of public policy. The Fellowship will engage the students in cutting edge topics and in a manner that is serious and capitalizes upon what they have learned at St Mark’s. Project proposals for the Kean Fellowship might take the form of a capstone project, a senior project, independent study and/or may include summer work .
Over the summer, I spent a week and a half at a medicine and healthcare summit at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The summit, run by the program Ambassador Leaders, was meant to help prepare me for my journey to become a doctor. The leaders of the summit brought in undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields, current medical school students, and numerous doctors for Q&A sessions. These sessions enhanced our understanding of the admission processes and prepared us for each step of becoming part of the medical field. Session facilitators also brought in doctors and nurses to teach us different medical procedures and tasks such as suturing, CPR/AED, checking vitals and reflexes, and stopping choking. Additionally, we traveled to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center to become certified in stopping life-threatening bleeding, a skill that can prevent countless deaths.
To attend the program, I had to complete a few assignments, one of which was to choose a controversial medical issue and argue both sides of it. I chose universal healthcare, and this continued to be a major theme throughout the summit, especially during an ethics debate. Although this assignment was challenging, it increased my ability to empathize with others, giving me a greater understanding of the different perspectives regarding universal healthcare. As I completed my assignment, the statistics I found were astounding. 8.8 percent of the US population, or 28.5 million Americans, are without health insurance. This means that 28.5 million people will not receive care in life-threatening situations. These people are mainly members of racial and ethnic minorities who struggle to receive adequate and affordable healthcare due to insufficient financial and social resources, and the lower-quality healthcare they receive results in higher morbidity and mortality rates compared to others in nonminority groups. Biases, stereotypes, prejudices, and uncertainty or unfamiliarity are some causes of major differences in healthcare. These are due to the numerous historical, political, economic, social, environmental, and cultural differences that minorities often face. Based on status, class, sexual orientation, gender, age, geographic location, education, and spoken language, many factors of healthcare disparities are uncontrollable, and proper healthcare should be not be withheld for these reasons.
As I mentioned earlier, at Hopkins I participated in an ethics debate in which I heard many perspectives on universal healthcare, and I also learned that each person’s background impacted their beliefs on the issue. For example, one friend of mine, Angely, was an immigrant from Vietnam. When her family first came to the United States, they did not have healthcare, so she experienced firsthand the challenges of not having healthcare. She explained how her family did not have much money to begin with, and they could not afford health insurance. As a result, she advocated for universal healthcare because she did not want anyone to go through what her family did. Additionally, another friend of mine, Corinne, has a father with Parkinson’s disease, a severe, progressive nervous system disorder. Although this disease cannot be cured, it can be treated to provide relief for the patient. As a result, Corinne’s father is dependent upon medical treatments that are only available to them because of their healthcare. Corinne’s belief that her father would not be alive without these treatments drives her view that everyone should have access to healthcare. On the other hand, the father of another friend of mine, Emma, is a surgeon, and she believes that since he worked so hard to get to where he is today, he should not have to involuntarily give up any of his money to support universal healthcare, something her family does not support. There was also another student from Alabama who came from a wealthy family and said he did not want to pay for others’ healthcare because he did not want to share his money. This surprised me because he was at a summit to become a doctor, and doctors are supposed to help people, raising questions for me about others’ motivation for entering the medical field.
I believe in universal healthcare due to my background. Similarly to Corinne’s situation, my mother has many health issues, and I do not know where she would be without the superior medical treatments she receives daily. As a result, I believe that everyone, no matter their social class, race, gender, ethnicity, or any other factors, has the right to affordable and accessible healthcare. The most common factors preventing people from accessing quality healthcare are uncontrollable, and should not affect one’s ability to see necessary medical professionals. When someone is sick, they should have access to medical services, as equal access to healthcare would save lives and decrease minority mortality rates across America. Furthermore, the pros of universal healthcare outweigh the cons. The main pro is that universal healthcare would lower the overall cost of healthcare in America, making it affordable for all, thus decreasing morbidity and mortality rates across the country. I acknowledge that there are cons, such as the high cost and resulting debt and tax increases. It would also lengthen the wait time in hospitals and create a shortage of doctors. However, an increase in taxes is worth a decrease in preventable deaths and would not be detrimental to the upper class’s well-being, while greatly improving the quality of life for those who need healthcare. Additionally, everyone should have equal access to doctors, not only those who are well-off. Also, those who are well-off and have the resources to help should provide life-saving aid to those who need it.This summit not only started to prepare me for the long road of becoming a doctor, but also opened my eyes to the world of problems within the medical field. Universal healthcare is a prominent issue that everyone should be aware of, especially those who are in the medical field. I also learned through the ethics debate how to defend both sides of an issue and weigh the opinions of different groups with respect. Finally, I am grateful to the Kean Fellowship Grant for this amazing experience as it encouraged my interest in medicine and helped me to better understand many of the topics crucial for the rest of my journey to becoming a doctor.
Cara Mulcahey is a V form day student from Sudbury, Massachusetts. She enjoys playing soccer, and her favorite subjects are math and biology.