Since the events of this past election, I find it ever important to be direct. Right now, I'm starting a lot of work in reproductive justice and more organizing. I am also teaching Ethics in Healthcare at a local college. Below is part of the email I sent them Wednesday morning. I'm an adjunct, so I don't really feel like I am endangering my job since it is already contingent. I've also taught at the school for a few years.
I want to add a note about the election. As healthcare providers, you stand as the front line with the public and serve as the human face of public policy and law. You are not powerless to influence or change those laws or ideas, though it may seem so at times. I do not think it is biased of me to assert that Donald Trump and Mike Pence pose a public health risk that needs to be addressed by everyone in the healthcare profession. Pence, in particular, has been directly involved in an HIV outbreak and restrictive health services. The two articles below are a starting point to look into his record:
I mention this as a take-away on what's to come, given the results of the election. You will be serving patients. You are asked to follow medical ethics - the basic tenets - and show non-judgmental care to the community. As I've emphasized before, ethics and the law are not always aligned - and I believe it is part of a healthcare professional's job to uphold ethical standards. This may require you to step outside clinic hours and advocate for public policy that supports medical ethics so that your ethical actions can align with your practice’s policies. While I would say that this has and will always be an aspect of working in healthcare and serving the community, the next few years will require more vigilance and attention in order to defend the progress made and continue working towards higher ethical standards in healthcare and the health of our community. I predict that this will be repeatedly tested in the upcoming years. Go beyond the working day, if you can, and fight to improve access to healthcare.
As I write this, friends of mine are posting instructions on how to get IUD's and the implant on Facebook and social media. Afraid that they will not have access to birth control through an appeal of the ACA or other controlling measures, they are seeking to protect themselves for the next few years.
Lastly, the latest reports from the CDC have declared that STI’s are at an all-time high. These can go down when there’s a combination of education and treatment – preventing and testing/knowing one’s status. Even if you are not interested in treating STI’s or sexual health, these issues intersect with many other health conditions. They are also surprisingly relevant when working with marginalized populations, including senior populations (who often have a high rate of STI’s http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/news-05-2011/seniors_sex_lives_are_up_and_so_are_std_cases.html)
All this said, the fight for healthcare that is safe and accessible is difficult. I think that you are pursing things in the medical field not because you want ‘big paychecks,’ but because you are fulfilled in some way with working with a community and promoting health and wellness in others. We made justice action plans earlier in the semester. Where are you in some of your plans? You weren’t required to pursue them, but I think, at this time, they might be more helpful than ever to approach a changing world.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. Please be aware that I am not trying to dissuade anyone from their political viewpoints, but rather am sharing medical data that shows public health scenarios that correspond to political action. Many healthcare professionals I am in contact with are nervous, afraid, and bracing themselves for a long fight ahead. For those already in the field, you probably feel it. For others, you are entering a difficult place to maintain healthcare ethics. We need you so we can all stay healthy.