While at Brandeis, I have had the opportunity to take classes that have helped me launch my professional journey and will continue to help me in the future. In the classroom, I have learned how to think critically about health inequalities and disparities. In Professor Siri Suh’s “Health, Community, Society: The Sociology of Health and Illness” course, we examined social determinants of health and the relationship between health and medical care. We also discussed the complexities involved through social, political, and economic lenses.
In order to address inequalities in health care and health outcomes, our society must identify and address the “causes of causes,” which include looking at the conditions that shape and give rise to disease. Professor Suh emphasized that these inequalities are mainly along the lines of race, gender, and class. We discussed how policy solutions are to address the “root causes” of these inequalities by looking at poverty and inadequate access to basic health care. Policy solutions could include education, adequate incomes, gainful employment, as well as affordable and adequate housing. In order to fully address health care inequalities, our society must go beyond the surface level of the issues at hand.
This class gave me the sociological perspective I need to be able to think critically about advanced care planning. As I continue to learn about the incredible advancements in the field of public health, it is crucial to be informed of the gaps that still need to be filled. Individuals are struggling to receive comprehensive care and access to the resources needed in end-of-life care. The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) is working to ensure everyone has a seat at the table when discussing and creating advanced care planning policy. I have had the opportunity to have conversations with a wide array of organizations including the Greater Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition, Eternally (a telehealth advanced care planning organization), and Hawaii Pacific Health. These conversations continue to address inequalities and disparities by ensuring that all individuals have a voice in and access to advanced care planning. C-TAC is working with an array of organizations in order to put their best foot forward in terms of the policy that is being addressed on both the state and federal level.
Each week, my intern team creates a podcast titled “A C-TAC Intern Roundtable: A Review of News from the Field.” As interns at C-TAC, our team has been discussing the importance of telehealth in advanced care planning and end-of-life care. Telehealth has given many individuals the opportunity to have conversations about end-of-life planning that may not have been accessible before. But while many people have access to the tools needed for telehealth, many individuals do not, especially in underserved communities. C-TAC is working to address the root causes of these inequalities by pushing policy to create a space where everyone has a seat at the table.
C-TAC is working to establish multi-faceted solutions in advanced care planning with an ultimate goal of equality in comprehensive health care. C-TAC is working to address these problems from different perspectives including policy work targeting health equity, interfaith workgroups, and state/community organizing. The knowledge I have gained from my classes at Brandeis has expanded and supported my knowledge of the C-TAC mission to change the health care delivery system.