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Wow.  I can’t believe I’m already halfway done with this program, that I’ve already been working at my internship for an entire month.  It has gone by way quicker than I thought it would, and it’s freaking me out just a tad bit. I look back at these last four weeks, though, and realize that during them, I’ve learned so much and had so many incredible experiences.  Even though the month flew by, it was full of education and learning and value that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life, and that I am so grateful to have.

These past four weeks have taught me an incredible amount about healthcare, and have really shown me how damaged our current healthcare system is, and how in need of repair it is.  Currently, many hospital systems are struggling with high costs associated with high readmission rates and emergency department over utilization, and with patients who are not properly managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, is another major problem, which is that many patients do not receive the care that they need because of lack of access to treatment, whether that be because of cost, environment, or simply living in a rural area.  There are so many patient populations that are not receiving the care that they need because of lack of organization and lack of proper services/systems tailored to help them. This is due to the fact that, in most instances, care is only provided in hospitals and by trained physicians and nurses.  Many people live far away from these clinics, which are the only means to get the specialty services that they need, or do not believe that they can afford high cost hospital care so do not go. As a result, their illness goes untreated, and they remain sick.

In this country, we have the means to treat and manage nearly every illness, and have created new technologies and innovations that offer incredible care.  Yet, despite this, the US, one of the most influential countries in the world, has so much health disparity. We have, for example, the worst maternal mortality rate of all developed nations.  In fact, in the US, maternal deaths have increased from 2000-2014.  Despite technological advancement, our nation is becoming sicker. These problems drastically increase spending and are raising healthcare prices, making healthcare even more inaccessible.  Something needs to change, and the project I am working on is attempting to do just that.

The Global Health Policy team here at the Margolis Center is working with a handful of different hospital systems across the US to try to increase access to affordable healthcare for struggling populations, from the elderly to new mothers to diabetics.  A major theme in the innovations that are being proposed to these systems is moving care from hospitals to the home through patient education and through training volunteers to provide treatments that were traditionally only given by clinicians. Care is moving away from the hospital and more towards the community and individual, and through this more people are increasing their knowledge on health and how to maintain it.  This movement is beneficial because it is working to create a healthier nation through education; it is giving people the tools to help themselves and rely less on others, and I find it really empowering. Slowly, our healthcare system is working towards increasing affordability and access to care, and this past month I have been able to work directly on this movement, which has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life.

Up until now, most of the learning I have done has been in a classroom, memorizing information and writing papers about things I only read about.  This summer, though, I have actually been working on a project that is making a change, however small, in the country. It feels incredible to have gotten the chance to do this, to apply all of the knowledge I have gained in school to the real world.  These past four weeks have gone by incredibly quickly, but I can’t wait to see what the next four will bring, and know that they will teach me even more.