Health Advocacy

       Health Advocacy are the two words that make up the short title of my program and the enormity of my future. A degree in Health Advocacy will allow me to customize a future in advocating for health behavioral change, health programs, wellness interventions, and promotion of illness preventative measures. I wish to work hand in hand with individuals, communities and organizations to create health conscious decisions that have the potential to prevent illness and promote interventions. I want to propose and promote intervention practices that will have a lasting effect throughout a person’s lifetime. My program combines an understanding of individual and community health, psychosocial sciences, nursing, health education and promotion, and social work. Across these domains I will be able to use effective communication, active listening, evidence based practices, and knowledge based in health education to advocate for personal, lifestyle, community, and possibly global changes.

In 2013, I was accepted to Plymouth State University for Nursing. I was ecstatic about becoming a nurse and my nursing career. I had a goal of becoming a labor and delivery nurse after having a child of my own at age sixteen.

Mercedez – my beautiful baby girl

I had a beautiful baby girl in high school and I vowed to make something great of myself for her. I fell in love with maternity nursing which is why I chose to attend PSU for nursing. Three years passed in the nursing program and I started to see nursing differently. I soon realized that this program was not for me. I realized I wanted to work more with patients directly about their plan of care, preventative care, and how they were going to live their life after they leave the hospital. Creating a program in Health Advocacy allows me to advocate for health plans and interventions on an individual basis as well as community wide. I will have the skills to promote healthy lifestyles, healthy behaviors, and health interventions. There are other degrees that would allow me to pursue a career path in things similar, but nothing that fully fits my goals. A Health Promotion degree would be just fine, but I would like to be able to pursue working in the healthcare field with more than intentions of building programs. I will have the ability to build a health promotion program, but a degree in Health Advocacy will provide me with the knowledge and skills to advocate and promote for individual and community health. The diversity of courses across multiple disciplines will create a unique skill set that will help me succeed in advocating and educating my patients or clients about the best healthy behaviors for their needs.

Through courses across the disciplines of bioscience, psychosocial sciences, social work, nursing and health education, a degree in Health Advocacy will be achieved. My targeted areas of study are Health Science, Health Education, and Interpersonal Interaction. Health Science courses that will enhance my degree are BI2110 Anatomy & Physiology I, BI2120 Anatomy & Physiology II, BI2340 Microbiology for Nurses, BI2360 Genetics for Nurses, and MA2300 Statistics I. These courses allow me to better understand how the human body works and how lifestyle choices will affect the body and a person’s wellness. Anatomy and Physiology provides key healthcare knowledge and core concepts of bodily organization to understand determining factors of health. Microbiology for Nurses teaches me all the ways viruses and bacteria grow and spread to understand how illness is caused. Genetics for Nurses is a course I feel valuable for my educational and personal growth because health is determined by your genetics and your lifestyle. Understanding family pedigrees, genetic statistic probabilities, and being able to interoperate family history are all important skills. Having the knowledge to perform those skills can allow me to understand the patient/client or community population I am working with to promote lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of illness. Statistics fulfills the QRCO requirement and teaches me to dissect, analyze, and interpret statistics. Being able to do so will allow me to make informed and evident based decisions on providing the best choices for my patient or program development. A few other courses that further my health science education not included in my major include Introduction to General Psychology and Lifespan Developmental Psychology. These two courses provide a background in physiological and psychological development decision making, brain functioning, reactions to stress, and reactions to aging.

Courses grounded in Health Education will provide knowledge about aspects of health in specific areas to promote the development of skills to educate my patients. The domains of health and wellness are physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and social. Courses grounded in education of the domains are valuable to my ability to advocate for health plans and person health changes grounded in whole mind/body wellness. Health Education courses in my major are HE2300 Principles of Health, HE2900 Disease, Safety, and the Environment, HE3710 Sex and Family Living Education, HE3220 Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living, SW3500 Health and Society, and SW3050 Perspectives on Aging. Principles of Health builds to the foundational support of my health literacy. This course supports growth in knowledge of the fundamental dimensions of health and the associated healthy behaviors through extensive understanding of interpersonal and intrapersonal factors of health. Disease, Safety, and the Environment is a combination of basic heath knowledge, health education and public health problems and solutions. This course gives me evidence based information about how illnesses are caused, what they do to the body, how to treat them, and how to avoid them. From that information, I learn how to educate my patient and the public on how to prevent the spread of illness. Sex and Family Living Education gives me the ability to further understand family planning, safe sex practices, and development of safe, supportive relationships. I feel this course is valuable to my major because of my elevated interest in forming and maintaining healthy relationships to fulfill multiple domains of health. Family planning is an area I take great interest in studying and advocating for in my future career. As a teen mother, I understand the importance of family planning and being able to talk openly with patients/clients about safe measures of family planning. Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living, which fulfills the TECO requirement, develops my knowledge about the importance of a proper nutrition for optimal development and maintenance of a healthy mind and body. Health and Society provides me with the tools to understand the history and present development of illnesses and social events that effect health. The course also provides knowledge about the healthcare system as a whole and healthcare policies. Perspectives on Aging will develop my knowledge of the aging population to develop my ability to understand the aging process and how to promote healthy aging. This course discusses the domains of health as related to older adults which is important to understand when advocating and promoting healthy choices that aim to prevent or slow age related diseases.

Interpersonal Interaction courses are grounded in developing my ability to be an effective communicator, active listener, and an advocator. As a Health Advocate, I hope to be working with people individually and on a larger community scale. As my interests are guided in relation, but not limited to families and children, it is important that my interpersonal skills are developed for all ages. Courses in the major that support this area of development include NR3052 Clinical Applications for Patient Centered Care, SW3150 Child Welfare & Family Services, and HE3240 Health Promotion, Planning and Evaluation. Clinical Applications for Patient Centered Care allowed me to work hands on with patients at Franklin Regional Hospital in Franklin, NH for a semester. I was able perform work as a student nurse to care for patients to expand my knowledge of evidence based practices. The time I spent at the hospital was influential in my decision to work on the prevention side of medicine rather than the reactive side. As I was caring for the sick, I understood the value of preventative healthcare as preventing illness and promotion positive health behaviors is extremely important work. The course taught me various communication techniques and basic hospital patient care practices that I will carry with me forever. Child Welfare & Family Services gives me understanding of how the child welfare system works. As I will be working with people of all ages, it is important I understand how to work with children in need. The course teaches how to assess risk factors and protective factors which will allow me to assess the needs of the children I work with. Health Promotion, Planning and Evaluation fulfills the WRCO requirement. The course will teach me how to plan a health promotion program from start to finish. I will be assessing needs, researching evidence based practices of best promotion practice, planning, implementing and evaluating. An outcome of my program will be the ability to promote healthy behaviors which requires proficiencies of how to address the needs of health behaviors in the target population. Promotion of health practices on an individual basis and to a community of people takes a large amount of effort and the course will provide me with resources to use in my practices.

To accomplish my unique goals, I need a unique major. Health Advocacy encompasses essential skills and knowledge from multiple domains. Creating and learning from an interdisciplinary degree will prepare me for my career as the healthcare field is always changing and very diverse. To better serve my purpose as a health advocator, I require a skill set that can only be learned from taking courses

Photo credit: tsaiian (CC BY-NC 2.0)

across disciplines and merging them to pursue interdisciplinary work. A well rounded degree with courses that fit my educational interests of health, psychosocial sciences, social work, nursing, and health promotion cannot be done in a degree of only one discipline. Being able to collaborate is an essential part of the health field which is why an interdisciplinary degree is a great choice as I must learn to collaborate with professors and understand information from multiple disciplines. With this degree I hope to deliver services in family planning, to family and children, and possibly young mothers like myself. I want to actively promote healthy behaviors and changes that will strengthen the health and longevity of the family. Being educated with an extensive and eclectic health background, I can broaden the scope of my practice with cross-disciplinary oversights, creative breakthroughs, and the ability to unify knowledge, and evoke social change.


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  1. Your daughter is a tiny smiling version of you! Love that photo!

    Your essay merges your personal story with your academic plan seamlessly, and I know from working with you how much you have to offer to young women both as a result of your background in nursing and health, and as a result of your life experience and how you’ve integrated it with your studies. This is a pleasure to read!

  2. Brooke Maggy

    Hey Madison! Your post was absolutely inspiring and your daughter is adorable! I admire how you continued your education after having a child at such a young age. I can tell by your post how passionate you are about your field of study and it is obvious to me you will be successful in what you do. I enjoyed reading your post as it was well written and easy to follow. I wish you the best as you continue your education here. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Louisa Noble

    Hi Madison! Your story warms my heart! I love that your major has transformed into your true passions and you’ve been able to do that with your little sidekick every step of the way. I see an amazing future for you both!

  4. Brandon McSherry

    I understand where you’re coming from because of my own background with the nursing program. Even though I work as an LPN now since starting to work in the healthcare field I have seen that there are many other ways to work with patients.

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