From Congress to water coolers, health care is a heated topic of discussion these days.
To gain some perspective, the students at the Hillel Academy’s Girls High School are engaged in a six—week, multicurricular project, delving into the issues affecting patients and doctors world—wide.
Students in grades 9 through 12 have spent weeks researching and analyzing various aspects of health care within the United States, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Israel. Through analytical presentations, integrating historical, sociological, and financial concerns, the students recently showcased their findings to both the students and staff of their school.
To gain a more personal understanding of the complexities of the subject, last week the girls traveled to Magee—Womens Hospital to meet with Leslie Davis, the hospital’s president, and Eileen Simmons, the hospital’s CFO.
The visit comes just as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on the Senate version of the health care reform bill, in what is seen as a critical moment for the Obama administration and its agenda.
“These are two women who stand at the forefront of health care today,” said Adam Reinherz, director of student affairs at Hillel Academy. “When the students got to Magee, they were really able to learn about the myriad of intricacies of health care.”
“The girls were able to see the bigger picture of hospitals and medicine,” said Yikara Levari, student affairs coordinator at Hillel. “They saw what goes into making a hospital that big work.”
The students appreciated the opportunity to integrate the concepts they had learned regarding health care — and health care reform — with the workings of the hospital where many of them had been born.
“It was interesting to see things from the hospital’s perspective,” said Leah Fuhrman, a junior at Hillel. “It was interesting to talk about how health care reform will really change how hospitals will be run.”
After observing first—hand the many components of health care — including staff, families, and the various research institutes — the students learned that the issue was “much larger than just doctors and hospitals,” Reinherz said. “The students saw the many different layers and many different wrinkles.”
Engaging in a dialogue with Davis, “they learned how the profession might change when these girls go out in the work force,” Reinherz continued. “They got a global perspective in a very informed and educated dialogue.”
“It was great,” said Davis. “Our intent is always to provide information to both young men and young women, but certainly young women, pertaining to potential careers. It was a nice opportunity to make a promising impression. The girls were well informed, bright and inquisitive. The were like little sponges.”
While discussing the future of the health care industry, the girls learned that Magee has expanded its capabilities “beyond [obstetrics] and women’s health,” Davis said, noting that it has become increasingly difficult for such specialized hospitals to survive in today’s economy.
The students also learned about the financial facets of health care by speaking with CFO Simmons. Simmons stressed the tenuous task of balancing the cost of health care with the rising cost of technology, Reinherz said.
The students are now working with Hillel’s English department on compositional and oratory exercises related to their newly acquired knowledge.
Exploring a subject from a variety of curricula confers a great benefit upon students, Reinherz said.
“Traditional ways of teaching are changing,” he said. “And some subjects are larger than one traditional discipline.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)