It isn’t anything new that I consider myself a passionate defender of public, state-supported education at every level. I grew up with a mom who was a fantastic public school teacher who at various points in her career, taught at every single level. This support for public education extends to medical education. Until this current school year, my sister taught at UNC’s medical school, and this year, she decided to add MD to her PhD and enroll in medical school itself. So I guess that I had a particular familial connection for the medical education component to this.
When I started seeing my reproductive endocrinologist at UNC fertility, I think I became more aware of residents and medical students as a part of my care team than before. In part, is because when you are having so many transvaginal ultrasounds, you become acutely aware of how many other people are in the room. When you are dealing with hard outcomes and talking about it with doctors and others present, you become aware of it too. So last year, when Sarah asked me to speak to her med students about my experiences and diagnoses, it actually was pretty easy to do so in a clinical way. By the time I actually managed to get and stay pregnant, I had no problem talking to any sort of medical students or professionals about my health issues. By the time the babies came, I don’t think I had much modesty with medical professionals (or the students and residents that accompanied them) left. Actually, while I have been in the hospital the past two months, this has also extended to pretty much anyone who works at the hospital who entered the hospital room, down to the housekeepers and the people who delivered food…
Because my adventures in breastfeeding have included many follow up appointments with lactation consultants as well as the Maternal and Fetal Medicine Doctor who specializes in breastfeeding problems, I wasn’t surprised when one day, the doctor asked me if it would be okay if she and her associates took some pictures of my battered, wonky breasts for possible inclusion in a textbook she is writing or other medical literature. I signed the permissions immediately. After all, if there is anything that I can do to educate others that sometimes breastfeeding hurts a lot and not all women have breasts perfectly situated for it, then I am all for it.
If only the elected officials of North Carolina shared my commitment to public education. Not only do I think that they wouldn’t strip down to educate others by showcasing the parts of them that are messed up and don’t work right (which for most of them, would be their brains), but they can’t even abide a university system that researches issues like poverty, biodiversity, and voter participation. Take a look at this webpage for full coverage of the Board of Governors (appointed by the NC General Assembly in the most partisan way possible) and their recommendations with regard to two important centers at the UNC Law School. I could go on and on about how their decisions stink of a dislike for academic freedom for professors who disagree with their regressive agenda and of a particular hatred for poor people and other disadvantaged populations. Yes, these are not people who have a commitment to public education at any level. It breaks my heart to think of the damage these people are inflicting to a university system that I love so much that I am willing to literally strip down to educate its’ students.