Where Are We Now? highlights the personal and professional perspectives of Rutgers Global Health Institute students and faculty as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Global Meets Local
Haves and have-nots: Medical student Shahyan Rehman has become even more aware that global health includes local health. This refers not only to the fact that infectious diseases are efficient world travelers, but also to issues of health equity—a hallmark of global health. “Health disparities are magnified,” he says about the effects of COVID-19 within some New Jersey communities. For example, through his involvement with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s student-run health clinic that serves New Brunswick’s poorest residents, he is learning about homeless individuals’ struggles to maintain proper hygiene. “Many sources of public restrooms have been closed down,” he says.
He also recognizes that the shift to telemedicine has left many people, who already were considered vulnerable, with “severely limited access to health services because many do not have smart phones or computers.”
Personal problems: Students’ home lives also can be a source of stress. D’Alonzo tells the story of a doctoral student who was “petrified” about becoming infected and “bringing COVID home” to her family, which includes her children, her husband, and their immigrant parents.
“She and her husband both are health care professionals. During the height of the pandemic in our area, they set up their house so that their children and parents were living on the top floor, and she and her husband lived on the bottom. It was really stressful for her,” D’Alonzo says. “She also was scrambling to adjust her doctoral research in light of COVID restrictions and figure out how she was going to fund the remainder of her education.”
D’Alonzo says she has worked with almost all her doctoral students to amend their dissertation proposals so they could do secondary data analysis instead of in-person data collection. “I think it’s up to us as faculty to try to find alternatives and to help the students plan ways to finish their dissertations without taking on a lot of debt.”
Continue reading: Silver Linings