Monday, May 21, 2018

URSP Student Summer Claveau Uses the Lens of Existentialism to Examine the Healthcare System

I decided to participate in the OSCAR Undergraduate Research Program this semester in order to better understand a problem with the healthcare system I have noticed and have been struggling with, since I was a GMU Global Health Fellow in 2016. In the Global Health Fellowship, we studied Bioethics, Human Rights, and Global Health Justice, as well as participated in an internship. My internship was with an awesome organization called Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, which is run be a truly inspiring man, Tattoo Tom. This organization works to provide non-medical support to families who have a child with cancer. This includes providing gas and grocery cards to these families as well as helping families maintain their living situations and support their kids without cancer.

While working with this organization, combined with my studies in the fellowship, I started to question why this incredible nonprofit organization had to provide these services to these families, though I felt these services are due to these people as a function of the healthcare system. I believe that these standard comforts are deserved because these families, and in fact all people who struggle with disease and disability.

As a philosophy major, I decided to approach this question through a lens of existentialism as well as through social justice theories. In this light an argument can be made that because of the lack of day-to-day aid, people who are affected by disease or disability are being structurally oppressed by the healthcare system and the financial burden of illness or disability. This is the basis of my research and the origin of my thought, which has produced the beginning to a paper that includes philosophical analysis as well as arguments for change.

I am very pleased with my results so far! My research mainly consists of reading, and writing. My favorite part of the process is working with my mentors, who have guided me by suggesting various sources and essays, as well as writing advice throughout the vigorous process. I’m excited to have a completed paper that I can use to apply to graduate school, and possibly submit for publication.