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Meds 16 student publishes essay on advocacy

  • Published Tue Nov 25th 2014

    Queen's Meds '16 student Yan Xu was recently published in the online healthcare publication Healthy Debate:

    Why doctors must be advocates

    by Nina Nguyen & Yan Xu

    The federal government recently announced the Chief Public Health Officer – the physician at the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada – should no longer set the agency’s own budget, leaving this task to a soon-to-be appointed administrator. While the risks and benefits of this approach continue to be debated, a widely cited column by the editor of a high-profile Canadian weekly magazine noted that public health should “stick to their needles”.

    This sentiment is not new. Hon. Jason Kenney, during his tenure as the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, countered an op-ed calling for restoration of the Interim Federal Health program, penned by physicians, by arguing that doctors serve patients best when their focus is on disease treatment. You may ask, naturally: why should physicians advocate? Why should they be involved in shaping health policy?

    As two trainees in the profession, we firmly believe our patients are why.

    More than a century ago, Rudolf Virchow, a doctor considered as the father of modern pathology, famously stated: “physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and social problems fall to a large extent within their jurisdiction.” Our diseases, both in Virchow’s era and now, are as much a product of social arrangements – including housing, income, education and employment – as they are a consequence of biology. 

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    Nina Nguyen is a third year medical student at Université de Sherbrooke. Follow Nina on Twitter @meimeian. Yan Xu is a third year medical student at Queen’s University. Follow Yan on Twitter @IMYanXu