Application DeadlineApplications to the Health Advocacy program are accepted on a rolling basis.
2012-2013 Health Advocacy Courses
Models of Advocacy: Theory and Practice
This course explores the multiple roles that health advocates assume as they create productive change on behalf of patients/consumers, families, and communities. Advocacy is practiced by improving the way health care is delivered within existing systems, by restructuring or reinventing areas of the health-care system, and by eliminating barriers to health caused by environmental destruction, poverty, and illiteracy. Throughout the year, students will be exposed to leaders who practice in diverse arenas within this interdisciplinary field, including clinical settings, community-based organizations, advocacy organizations, the media, interest groups, governmental organizations, and policy settings. They will learn to analyze organizations and communities in order to understand hierarchies and decision-making within them, and to be exposed to frameworks for conceptualizing and promoting the right to health. The course will also explore strategies to give health advocates and consumers more power in making decisions, defining issues, designing programs, and developing policies. The experiences of individuals and communities, as well as how systems respond to those experiences, will remain a central focus as students explore concepts, models, and practices of health advocacy.
Economics of Health
This course will examine many of the major issues facing the American health care system from a variety of economic perspectives. A wide range of topics will be covered, from the racial and economic disparities in health outcomes to the Patient Protection Act and alternative modes of financing of the medical care delivery system. Students will learn how the tools and analytic approaches used by economists can enhance the understanding of major public-health issues such as AIDS, reproductive care, and mental health, as well as key health care financing issues such as the rising cost of health care and our fragmented insurance system.
Ethics and Advocacy
This course explores a range of ethical dilemmas confronting clinicians, patients, families, and administrators that arise in acute care, ambulatory-care settings, long-term care facilities, and other institutions providing health care. Included is an examination of issues such as informed consent, competency/capacity to make decisions, refusal of treatment, withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, confidentiality, maternal-fetal conflicts and treatment, physician-patient relationships, research ethics, and implications of new genetic advances and technology. The goal is to integrate a didactic approach to the issues with the student’s own fieldwork placements and to provide students an ethical framework within which to consider dilemmas that may arise in the course of patient advocacy. In-depth discussion focuses on fundamental ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence/non-malfeasance, and justice, as well as specific legal concepts. Students are provided with a range of perspectives necessary to assess and resolve dilemmas that arise in clinical practice.
Program Design and Evaluation
Health advocacy issues are addressed through a myriad of avenues, typically involving some type of direct intervention. This course will provide an overview of and a critical reflection on the program design and evaluation process. Students will discuss and study elements of design and evaluation, the major theoretical and political orientations to evaluation research, and the practical, ethical, and methodological problems involved in applying research methods to understanding social change. Major topics include how to approach program conception and implementation, including developing and measuring program goals and objectives, and applying a social-justice lens to health advocacy issues, as well as to the entire continuum of program planning and evaluation. At the end of this course, students will be able to conceptually and practically understand the contours of how to thoughtfully plan, develop, and evaluate an intervention aimed at a health advocacy issue.
Health Care Policy
This course will examine the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of health care policy. It will focus on the interaction of the health-care system with the federal, state, and local political systems. Individual pieces of health policy will be used to study the evolution of health policy and the impact of health policy on health care in the United States.
This course introduces students to a broad range of legal and policy issues surrounding the provision of health care. The course will focus on three areas: rights of patients in their relationships with health care professionals and institutions, licensing and regulatory issues, and conflicts between the rights of individuals and the interests of society.
History of Health Care in the United States
From colonial times, access to health care has been less a history of access and inclusion and more one of exclusion and organizing to guarantee its access to the increasingly diverse population of a growing country. In this conference-based course, we will explore the varied understandings of health and medical care from colonial times to the late 20th century. Topics to be considered will include the role that ethnicity, race, gender, and religious identity played in access to and provision of health services; the migration of health care from home and community (midwifery, homeopathy) to institutions (nursing, hospitals) and the social conditions that fueled that migration; the struggle for ascendancy among the different fields of medical education; and the creation of the field of public health, its role in defining and controlling outbreaks of disease, and its impact on addressing inequities in access to health care services. Course participants will prepare a major research paper, investigating an aspect of the history of health care that is of special interest. The conference paper will be developed through regular meetings with the instructor and in conjunction with other course participants.
Illness and Disability Narratives
The experience of illness and disability is both intimately personal and reflective of larger social, political, and cultural realities. In order to effectively work in direct patient care or in broader scholarly or organizational arenas, a health advocate must be able to interpret and understand personal, communal, and institutional narratives. This course will introduce students to written and visual narratives of illness and disability, narrative and cultural theory, as well as media studies. Students will write their own illness or disability narratives during the course session, exploring issues such as selfhood, perspective, memory, family, and caregiving. Finally, students will elicit, transcribe, and interpret the oral narrative of an individual with a chronic illness or disability.
Physiology and Disease
This course provides first-time physiology students with an introductory survey of the major areas of human physiology. The focus will be on the major systems of the human body. In addition to the normal physiology of the system, representative disease states will be studied to highlight what can go wrong. Special topics will include medical terminology and medical record abbreviations. Students will be introduced to diagnostic techniques such as laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging. The course includes student presentations, as well as a midterm examination. A basic human biology course is strongly recommended as a prerequisite to this course for students who have not studied human biology or anatomy and physiology at a college level or beyond.
Research Methods for Health Advocacy
This course introduces students to the research process that supports effective health advocacy in the community. Students will learn the principles of literature review, instrument construction and implementation, and issues specific to community-based work and needs assessment; they will be exposed to the process of ethical approval for research involving human subjects in the community. Students will have an opportunity to apply these principles of research in the community setting, gaining an in-depth understanding of context-driven, community-based participatory research and the concept of co-production of knowledge. They will develop assessment and evaluation skills, gaining practical experience and applying statistical principles. By introducing students to data-collection concepts and SPSS analysis, this course establishes foundations that will be further refined in subsequent coursework in the program.
The Capstone project and seminar provide health-advocacy students the opportunity to integrate their academic learning with field experience and examine how theoretical advocacy themes are made operational in workplace settings. Capstone is designed to enhance the coherence of students’ educational experiences and further develop their sense of professional identity. The project generally builds on the third and final fieldwork placement and is supported by this Capstone Seminar, which provides students with a strategic perspective on how the field is evolving and the skills required to successfully navigate a rapidly changing profession in a health-care system poised for significant reform. The seminar is designed to facilitate students’ work on their Capstone projects by providing them with a group setting in which to explore ideas and refine project parameters, connect the project to broader advocacy concepts and career development opportunities, and receive regular feedback on Capstone progress.
This course will provide students with guidance in the development of their sense of professional identity. Supportive guidance in a group setting will give students an opportunity to work on practical skills such as resume development, communication skills, and standards for behavior that are essential for work as health advocates. Students will also have the opportunity to share and reflect upon specific fieldwork experiences.