As far as public health goes, I was always under the impression that as long as people ate their vegetables, visited the doctor for their flu shot come October, and payed their health insurance bills, they’d remain reasonably healthy and be prepared financially for a bad case of pneumonia or a broken ankle. Learning about the social determinants of health and the realities of healthcare inequality in UC105 has called a couple of things to my attention. First, for most Americans, managing health and accessing healthcare is far from this simple. And second, the reason managing health has seemed so simple to me is due in large part to my social identities–they’ve made quality healthcare and health education unconventionally accessible.
Growing up, my family was very close with my maternal grandparents. They lived no more than 15 mins away, and we had lunch at their house after church every weekend. My grandpa is a retired physician and my grandma a retired nurse, so whenever I ran a fever or woke up feeling nauseous as a little kid, all my parents had to do was give them a call. Sure, I went to the doctor’s office for check-ups and the emergency room for a couple broken arms, but sincere medical advice was always just a phone call away, free of charge.
Today, healthcare is available to me at UHS and is covered by my parents’ insurance plan. I am a college student in a healthcare-focused, substance-free learning community, and am thus afforded not only the opportunity to take classes pertaining to health–like UC 105 and my Women’s Health 220 class, for example–but am also surrounded by peers who are passionate about maintaining personal health and promoting it as aspiring health professionals. I am literally on a committee that meets weekly to discuss health and wellness.
Nonetheless, there are times when the university environment, especially outside of HSSP, promotes unhealthy behavior–accumulating intense, academic-derived stress, binge drinking, and skipping out on sleep are normal, almost fashionable practices. All too often, I’ll stroll through Mason Hall and overhear students boasting about the exam they just took on 3 hours of sleep or how they’d just studied for 11 hours straight without leaving their dorm room.
With relatives in healthcare and as a college student in a pre-health learning community, my social identities have affected my health in primarily positive ways. How have your social identities impacted your health?