Reflection: Making Change Happen
Erica Cao, P&S Student
I remember the first week of class as a first year student - there was a discussion group after public health expert Shannon Brownlee's talk on the problems of the US healthcare system, and we were committed to the idea that our generation could do something to change the system for the better. We dreamed of a sort of revolution starting in medical education. One of us asked, "what's our slogan"?
Now four years later, I still marvel at the energy of P&S students to come together with passion and energy. I am hopeful that as the years progress, we will see even more progress. I am already starting to see how my classmates have made reforms ranging from implementing an honor policy allowing flexibility of exam scheduling to organizing marches such as the recent DACA march - the specific events matter less than the kind of community involvement that is a hallmark of the P&S student body.
I am even more hopeful that in the years to come, my classmates will come to shape the future of medicine in line with "we don't just practice medicine, we change it." We study humanities. We study policy. We study physics. We bring all these perspectives into a larger conversation about how and where medicine is situated within arts, sciences, and society.
I am now embarking on my PhD in Music at the University of Cambridge under a Gates Scholarship, and I want very much to share because Columbia P&S is a place where you can do this. You will have to fight, you will have to be a little different, but my classmates are amazing - full of talent and energy - and I know that starting to change those huge, seemingly insurmountable obstacles that prevent us from caring to the best of our ability for patients starts from the very beginning of medical school. As I reflect on the 250th anniversary of P&S, I'm confident we can make the change happen.