There’s nothing like figuring out what your niche is. With a new year comes new classes and I couldn’t be more excited about them. Where I only had room for a couple classes in my major freshman year, this year I am taking 4 classes in/ related to my major (healthcare administration). Healthcare administration involves a lot of the “business” side of healthcare (because, as many know,American healthcare is run as a business). I am so interested in the classes I am taking and the topic excites me not just because I grew up in a family of nurses, but also because I’ve been in the healthcare system, I’ve seen how it works, and frankly it fascinates me.
What you learn quickly as a healthcare major, is that the healthcare system in America is not perfect. In fact, it sort of sucks. As far as getting a return for your investment, Americans are getting ripped off. The US spends the highest percent of the GDP on healthcare out of any other country. Yet the life expectancy and infant mortality rates are frightening. In comparison with Switzerland, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, UK, and Japan we are ranked last in Life expectancy and infant mortality, yet we spend a significant amount MORE on healthcare (OECD Health Data 2006). So why aren’t we getting the quality care that our dollar should be providing? There are several reasons for this, some being that we over-utilize “advanced” technology, we have high administrative and fraud costs, and our healthcare professionals are pay very high wages compared to other nations (Health Policy Analysis, Mcglaughlin & Mcglaughlin). But the point is, something has to change. Costs and quality are not equal right now. And access to healthcare is another story for another day. These sheer facts alone put fire in my belly (as one of my professor’s always says) and make me want to make positive changes. As someone who’s been there, I think it’s great that I will be able to be someone who can give their input. Imagine having a doctor who knows what it’s like to do 3 or more treatments a day, what valuable understanding. In the same way, I hope that I will be able to be an administrator who knows the frustrations (whether physical or financial) of the patient.
We are discussing a lot about healthcare reform in my classes and asking/answering: Should government be involved? How has our healthcare system come to be? Should healthcare be handled as a business or as a public good that should be provided to all? Is the healthcare system a failing market? All of these questions are interwoven in the majority of my classes, and now more than ever, is an exciting time to explore them. It feels great to be educated about what everything means and to be able to form an honest opinion on it all that is not based on the media, Google, or what people are saying. Not only can I form my own opinion but I can also see other sides. It’s important to see every viewpoint, because many views have several pros as well as cons. There is no perfect opinion about the reform of our healthcare system. What it comes down to though, is that I want to be able to make a difference. I hope that being a healthcare administration major will help me to better understand this complicated system and hopefully land me in a job where I can have a positive impact on the quality of care that patients in the US Healthcare System receive.