HEALTH ISSUES: Replacing risk and fear with education and a willingness to help others

2014-05-10T00:00:00Z 2014-05-27T12:28:06Z HEALTH ISSUES: Replacing risk and fear with education and a willingness to help others
May 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The saga is ongoing and confusing. One week you get a bill for a simple test that costs as much as a compact car and you are thinking how is this ever going to be brought under control? Then, a few days go by and you look at a set of before and after photos of a heart valve repair job on one of your nearest and dearest and you know that you’ve just witnessed a miracle, and that miracle will very likely last for 20 more years.

But what’s going on in education is even more mind-blowing. If you think you have too many choices at the grocery store try looking at possible undergraduate concentrations, certifications or post-graduate courses of study so tightly focused on a particular genre of research or clinical work that once you make a selection there is no possibility of turning back. Your career has automatically become too big to fail. Have you ever looked at your personal trainer’s resume lately? He or she very likely has an undergraduate degree in exercise science, sports management, biomedical engineering technology, kinesiology or plain, vanilla health studies. And the chances are that trainer may be contemplating more education to become an orthopedic specialist, a chiropractor, a PhD nurse, pharmacist or nutritionist. Because they have looked at the range of paths in front of them and made some very hard choices. The scope of possibilities is as wide as the time is narrow for getting the right training. With schools now graded on their ability to graduate rather than recruit that creates even more pressure to make the right call about the future and be quick about it, when you are barely old enough to vote. From my vantage point, making these decisions requires more courage and self-knowledge than ever.

This season of acceptance and rejection has gotten me thinking about the future of healthcare in terms of the people who want to be in it. Surprisingly, there are many of you. Almost every young professional I know is involved or working towards being involved in a giving and serving role whether it’s in education, public service or some larger cause or call to action. Gerontology has been expanding for a decade. Studies keep emerging that measure the positive correlation between happiness and giving. I heard a talk by an octogenarian who gave up a lucrative job heading an advertising agency in Los Angeles because he thought it would be better if he opened a mission to help people struggling with addiction. That was 40 years ago.

It is easy to forget about these wonderful personal stories faced with a barrage of mental illness, violent behavior and kids in jeopardy. But the truth is, there are many more of the good stories out there. It’s our job to find them. Every seven or eight weeks. It’s not that difficult.

Pat Colander

Associate Publisher and Editor

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