Women's Health is Population Health
Wanting to further pursue my passion for women’s health, I entered this year serving as the Prenatal Patient Advocate for FPCN eager to learn more about a career in the field. Eight months later, “learning more” feels like a vast understatement. The experiences I have had through my role have been revolutionary in terms of not only gaining more experience serving in the field of women's health, but also learning more about various levels of the healthcare system that extend past the clinical role.
As the prenatal care coordinator, my role attempts to fill some of the many holes that exist in getting pregnant people the care they need and deserve. From filling out Medicaid applications for uninsured patients to putting strollers together for the soon-to-be parents, I work with our prenatal patients to make sure all their concerns are addressed. Studying public health science in my undergrad years only scratched the surface regarding learning more about barriers to healthcare and how the system has failed many populations, including the community of women I work with in Philadelphia. In class I learned about barriers like the burden of medical expenses, while my hands-on experience this year has opened my eyes to other concerns we do not talk about as often, like immigration status and the lack of resources available to undocumented folk, getting rides to appointments, and finding someone to take care of your children when you go to appointments.
Through my role, I have been able to connect patients with resources that can support them through their pregnancy like the Women, Infants & Children Program (WIC), Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), and Nurse Family Partnership (NFP). However, I have also realized the gaps that exist for necessary items and resources our patients need throughout their pregnancy and post- partum, like easier access to free/ lower cost baby wipes and formula. It seems that one big challenge that exists systemically is connecting patients to existing resources as far too often programs exist to help underserved patients, but the system does not make it easy for patients in- need to apply and receive those benefits. My service year has emphasized to me the importance of patient- centered and trauma- informed care, and what a difference it can make in such a vulnerable time that is pregnancy. Women’s health is population health, given these women make up half of our population and carry our future.