Writing to influence health policy
Associate Professor Lesley Russell discussed the work of Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher (as pictured together). It was a very timely reflection given big news in the US about his new job.
Russell tweeted: My work is at intersection of politics/policy. So pay attention to those who can communicate effectively across this divide and with other stakeholders. None better than @Atul_Gawande. Tonight I will look at some of his seminal articles and books.
Why is Atul Gawande so effective? Honesty, lack of hubris, insight, ability to tell stories to illustrate complicated issues, willing to tackle hard / ethical topics. That he has worked in US Congress (where we met) and White House helps.
You can access @Atul_Gawande work here. I emailed him earlier this week and he said he would try to drop in on #CroakeyREAD despite the time differences, and today this: Atul Gawande Named CEO Of Health Venture By Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway And JPMorgan.
So clearly now the world will be watching to see how Gawande shapes health policy, health care funding in the real world! Read his work with this in mind
Atul Gawande has been writing for New Yorker for many years. In 2009 he wrote a seminal piece on ‘cost conundrum’ in US healthcare.
Obama said this was required reading as WH worked on Obamacare.
Since Atul Gawande showcased Grand Junction, Colorado, in 2009 New Yorker article, numerous reporters have made the pilgrimage to this low-cost mecca, attempting to explain why health care there is cheaper than elsewhere in the United States.
Since Atul Gawande showcased Grand Junction, Colorado, in a 2009 New Yorker article, numerous reporters have made the…
Read this article here.
Will he now take the chance to apply these lessons?
Atul Gawande ‘Complications: a surgeon’s notes on an imperfect science’ 2002. “A model synthesis of personal confession, introspection and systems analysis on which the serious work of reducing medical error could be based” The Lancet
Highlights that the core predicament of medicine is uncertainty – consequences for doctors, patients, funders.
Atul Gawande ‘Better: a surgeon’s notes on performance’ 2007. What is success in the complex, risk filled world of medicine where lives are at stake? Requirements = diligence; do it right; ingenuity. “Betterment is a perpetual labour”.
Atul Gawande ‘The Checklist Manifesto: how to get things right’ 2009. Development and implementation of surgical checklists to improve patient safety, outcomes.
Atul Gawande ‘Being Mortal Medicine and What Matters in the End’ 2014. “I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them. … The purpose of medical schooling was to teach how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise.”
Reading for social justice action
Jim Bloyd shared books that have influenced his public health practice tackling health inequities in the United States.
One year, one hundred books
Mikaella Clements tweeted in from Berlin, chatting with her mother Marie McInerney and aunty, Monica McInerney.
but I’ve also been reading a lot of CLASSICS. we need to talk about the western canon and who is allowed on it (white men, usually rich) & who isn’t (everyone else, w/ a few exceptions as u get into the 16th century) & also whether it’s even worth revamping it
there are interesting discussions going on inside and outside of academia about whether the idea of a canon is inherently flawed and exclusionary (yep, probs, but until we work out new ways to teach I’d rather see more POC/queer writers/women on it, cheers)
but it is funny to read classics & realise how Good they so often are (duhdoi). when I was a kid I read voraciously and obsessively but mostly fantasy/YA; when I was 10 my mum said “I think you need to stretch yourself more” & gave me JANE EYRE & it was a Revelation
it’s strange & alienating as a queer woman to feel the tension between the world classic texts give us & the world I live in; I’ve spent my life studying texts that barely notice I exist – my undergrad was in Classics, my post-grad focuses on medieval studies
but I feel v strongly that older texts are always doing much more complex things in terms of gender or race or politics than we think. I’d argue that BEOWULF, at its core, is struggling w postcolonial theory; THE CANTERBURY TALES is obsessed with women & power
Hellenic novels, usually laughed at within the realms of classical studies, hold the first seeds of romantic equality in their idea of “love at first sight”; THE ILIAD deals w gender and same-sex desire so viscerally that even ancient scholars were fighting about it
I guess my point is that in evaluating and opening up the old literary canon, we should also be evaluating literary studies, and dragging those texts away from the meanings that have been forced upon them, mostly – lbr – by white male academics in the 30s and 50s
A writer’s reading life
Monica McInerney tweeted in from Dublin:
Hello from Ireland, #CroakeyREAD, where the sun is shining on the longest day of the year. I’m a South Australian-born, Dublin-based reader & writer, author of 12 novels, the 13th under construction.
For the past 27 years I’ve moved back and forth between my two homelands of Australia & Ireland. Here are the 5 places that changed my life along the way:
When I first moved here in 1991, reading books and stories by Irish authors helped me decode Ireland and Irish society. Here are just 5 of those books.
My life has been in Ireland for years now, but I’m still Australian through-and-through. Some days I long for the sound of a magpie’s call, that big sky, a pasty with sauce, a cup of tea with Mum, or to travel back in time, to when I was a kid…
…living in the railway stationmaster’s house in Clare, SA, when everything felt safe and all felt possible too. Australian books soothe my soul at those homesick times. Here are 5 Australian novels that swept me home again. My big sister Lea McInerney wrote about him, us, death and dying, life and living in this beautiful essay called Field Notes on Death. (And here is an article by Monica, The Real-Life Railway Children).
Irish – sometimes called Gaelic – is the official first language of Ireland. You see it on street signs, there’s an Irish language radio & TV station but you can easily live here without knowing a word of it…
I’ve done several courses but to my shame can only speak and read the most basic cúpla focal (couple of words.)
If pressed, I can string a series of words into a nonsensical sentence: Bus aras Áras an Uachtaráin Baile Átha Cliath an madra gearr féileacán (Bus station president’s house Dublin a short dog butterfly)
Her advice to female rebels thinking of taking up arms in 1916, during the Easter Rising: “Dress suitably in short skirts and sitting boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank, and buy a revolver.”
Born Constance Gore-Booth, into a prosperous family, she was immortalised by WB Yeats in this beautiful poem about her family home of Lissadell in County Sligo. How better to end my #CroakeyREAD
Thanks to all for reading suggestions
See here for more info.
Read: With the End in Mind and From Here to Eternity review – how to banish fear and shame around dying.
Bookmark this link to follow all the #CroakeyREAD coverage – there is a third and final rolling post to come.