Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

My brother lost a battle with cancer, my father was a stroke and cancer victim, and I am a caregiver for my 92-year-old mother. After years of dealing with medical issues, I believe that society is poorly served by the U.S. health care system. One of the most effective ways I can help address this problem is through advocacy for patients and their families.
A key problem in health care settings is that practitioners often see patients as a “chart” and not a person. They look only at the patient’s medical history and give little credence to factors that cannot be listed on a chart, like personality, family support and will to heal. Care decisions are frequently determined by patients’ deficits rather than their strengths. As manager of my mother’s care, I am constantly told about the limitations of the elderly and that is why certain care is prescribed, without consideration of her capabilities or my experience as her caregiver. This deficit-based approach has frustrated me, which is why I decided to pursue a Master of Social Work.
I know that medical professionals are constrained by the regulations and protocols of our health care system. These can conflict with the needs and desires of the patient and their family. I want to be the person who is the bridge between the practitioners and the patient. When people are in crisis, they need someone who is looking out for their interests and can guide them through the process. As a social worker, I can partner with people to better manage their health care experience for positive outcomes.
I have a background in health care and excel in helping people understand benefits and navigate the health care system. Seeing how much my health care knowledge helped me address the medical issues in my family has fueled my desire to assist others. I am making a career change to social work and believe I can best address some of the problems with patient care by marrying my professional background and personal experience with an MSW.

Laurie from New Jersey
Rutgers University