I knew attending the 2012 NABJ Conference on Health Inequities and Health Policy was going to blow my mind, but I had no idea just how much it was going to rock my world.
With 13 pages of notes and over four hours of audio on my digital recorder, I have so much information to sort through, not just for my independent study, but in general. Not only do I have a couple of story ideas, but I also have a bunch of amazing new role models in the fields of journalism and health. To be able to see and hear how passionate all of the panelists were made me want that for myself. As, I’m pretty sure, the youngest person at the conference, having the opportunity to learn from professionals on both sides was completely invaluable. I felt a lot like I did at the convention last year; I kept wanting to pinch myself because it didn’t feel real. Honestly, it still doesn’t. I feel so fortunate to be a member of this organization, and I hope to attend many more conferences in the years to come.
While there were several pieces of information that I took away from the conference, I think the most important is that it is up to us as patients, and as journalists, to advocate for ourselves and to write the stories that we not only want to hear, but need to hear as well. A couple of the panelists mentioned that there are stories that often go unreported or underreported because they are not “sexy.” For example, during the African-American Women’s Reproductive Health and the 2012 Elections, Dr. Vanessa Cullins mentioned that Viagra and vasectomies are covered by insurance, but no one is talking about that. Well why not? Is that not also an inequity, one based on sex? Indeed these inequities and disparities are based just as much on sex as they are race and socio-economic status. But if they are being spoken about, it is in hushed whispers, which makes it harder to incite any kind of change to the policies currently in place.
There is so much more I want to say, but because I will be writing about a couple of the panels for my independent study, I don’t want to write too much that will possibly conflict with what I am going to write later. But I know that I have a lot to think about, and a lot of work to do. I can’t wait to get started.