Dynamism of Health

Authored by:
Veronica N.

Veronica N.

Wait. Public health is related to medicine?

Seems pretty obvious in hindsight- I know- but my experience at UC Berkeley caused me to live in this bubble and turn a blind eye to the interconnections between public health and medicine. At UC Berkeley, when you find yourself talking to a public health major, you'll often find that they also want to pursue a career in public health policy. Hearing about the intricacies and ways our healthcare system can be improved via laws was interesting, but the weight that accompanies the challenges of making legal change in our democratic system caused me to shrink away from it.  I liked how immediately applicable my major was to my interests as a premed. Sure, I'll never see the arrow pushing of electrons in real life, but understanding the mechanism behind amino acid condensation reactions made me appreciate learning  about proteins and their functionality, which all ties back to the pushing of electrons.

So I hid behind biology. Believing that if I mastered the precise science taught within my major, I'd be well equipped as a premedical student. But I was wrong. 

This week we began our pre-professional public health course with Professor Michelle at PUCMM in Santiago. I am so grateful to be learning from such an energetic, wise, and amazing person like her. (She literally has a bachelor's, master's, phD, AND is a mother. LIKE WHAT??) Anyways. In class, we spent an entire 2 hours discussing the evolution of the definition of the word "health." AN ENTIRE TWO HOURS. And, quite frankly, it probably was barely enough for her. I learned about the many nuances that go behind the idea of health. Is health just about the absence of disease? Clearly not, there is also mental, social, and emotional health to take into account as well. But if you're not healthy in just one of those areas, does that make you an unhealthy person overall? Well, if that were the case, very few people in this world would be considered healthy. It was so fascinating to see how many factors we have to juggle when examining the health of a person and a community.

This week's lessons made me reconsider what kind of knowledge a good physician must possess. Memorizing every mechanism, biological process, and pharmaceutical drug would barely equip a doctor with the tools needed to adequately serve a patient. Physicians have so many other factors to consider such as the culture, history, socioeconomic status, religion, etc of the patient and community they work with. Telling a patient that they're overweight and simply need to eat healthier won't serve their needs as well as trying to understand the reasons behind their unhealthy diet. Perhaps they live in a community where access to healthy options is too expensive or scarce. Perhaps their busy work lives makes fast food a more time-friendly alternative than having to meal prep for the week. Or perhaps they just choose to eat unhealthy options despite their access to fresh choices. No matter the situation, this level of conscientiousness is critical for any successful doctor. I plan to carry this idea with throughout my journey as a premed, and I hope to continue humbling myself to learn all that I can from many disciplines outside of biology. ​

Share This Post:

Related Posts

Related Programs