The Charger Blog

‘Living through COVID-19 Has Made Me More Eager to Become a Healthcare Provider Who Will Advocate for Her Patients’

As I have seen the impact COVID-19 has had on communities, particularly on people of color, I have found myself more driven than ever to help address the ongoing health disparities in the U.S. healthcare system.

April 27, 2020

By Jahnovia Wheatley ’23

Image of Jahnovia Wheatley ’23.
Jahnovia Wheatley ’23.

When I started my first year of college, I never expected it to be disrupted in the way that it has. I never expected to go home for spring break then not be allowed back on campus.

I had been hearing about the COVID-19 outbreak since January, but at that time, the virus did not impact my life nor the lives of my peers. We went on with our day-to-day lives without really giving COVID-19 any second thoughts. When the University decided to we would learn remotely, it became clearer that we were living through a pandemic. Coming home, I realized that while I did not see or feel the effects of COVID-19 while I was at school, the rest of the world would soon be facing panic and frenzy. COVID-19 quickly became real.

Since coming home, I have had an ample amount of time to follow the latest news on COVID-19. While following the news and comparing and contrasting how my home state of New York – as well as other states – are handling the situation, I have also begun to notice how COVID-19 has been affecting communities of color at substantially greater rates across the country.

"Seeing how people of color are being affected because of this pandemic has impacted how I think of myself as a future healthcare provider."Jahnovia Wheatley ’23

Why is this? Because of underlying health, social, and economic inequities. People of color have been more at risk because of their lack of resources and access to healthcare caused by financial barriers. These communities are often stricken with poverty and cannot access the essential testing and healthcare services needed to combat this deadly virus.

Because of this, they are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 and more likely to suffer fatalities. People of color are suffering at alarming rates. Seeing how people of color are being affected because of this pandemic has impacted how I think of myself as a future healthcare provider.

Working in healthcare will mean I will have to deal with whatever challenges come my way. As a future provider, I aim to put my patients first by providing them with the best care possible. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color has fueled this desire in me. My role as a future healthcare provider must also address the racial, social, and economic barriers that negatively affect the health of all people.

People are more than what their chart says about them. As a healthcare provider, it is important to look into how a person came into your care, how their family will be affected, and how they will live their life moving forward. It will be my priority to do my best to bring attention to disadvantages people of color suffer from because of the flaws in our healthcare system and other systemic challenges. Things such as the Affordable Care Act have helped increase access to care, but there is still more work to be done.

Living through COVID-19 has made me more eager to become a healthcare provider who will advocate for her patients. It has also made me passionate about providing needed support and representation for people of color. The current pandemic our country is suffering has brought to my attention just how important it is address the ongoing health disparities in the U.S. healthcare system.

Jahnovia Wheatley ’23, is a health sciences major on the pre-med track in the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences. She is a member of the Black Student Union and the University’s chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is from Mount Vernon, New York. This reflection was completed as part of the “Caught in the Pandemic” project in the Principles of Communication course being taught by Alvin Tran, ScD, MPH, health administration and policy professor.

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