Career path to make a change (social or political)

gm286

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If I were still able to work and/or study, what are potential ways that I could help patients with ME/CFS improve or get better or gain better care / rights? I have ME/CFS but I am driven to make a difference and would like it to translate through a job or master’s program.

This is kind of a stretch, but wondering if someone has ideas. I do not have a scientific background, more of a social/humanities background. Making a difference in our community is what matters the most to me.

What kind of work, association/organization, or graduate degree program would lend itself well to this goal? U.S. centric question since I am moving there.

I got responses on FB like:
"teacher"
"social work or law" / "patient advocate in a political lobbying perspective"
"start an ME/CFS patient bill of medical rights"
"master of public health"

What kind of job fits the "patient advocate in a political lobbying perspective"? Additionally, I got the impression (though I might be mistaken), that the Master's in Public Health (MPH) will eventually have you working as a consultant for business firms. That is not my objective.

I feel like most of the descriptors above make sense on their own but when it comes down to imagining a concrete academic or professional path it is blurry in my mind.

Where should one start?

I have accumulated two years of direct support work helping disabled individuals. I have a Bachelor's degree from the U.S. Where would I start if I wanted to become more involved in ME/CFS? I really feel like if I were to succeed at doing this, it would motivate me a huge amount.

What is happening right now is, perhaps due to lack of competitiveness, due to fatigue, or due to academic/professional objectives that aren't as well as defined as I could have made them to be, I am getting rejections for graduate programs in social work, school counseling, and mental health counseling from top universities.

I feel like I need a shift in approach and direction before I reach the U.S.

Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far.
 

Jyoti

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I know a few MPHs and none of them work for business firms. It strikes me, though, as an 'odd' degree in that it seems to be one acquired often by MDs whose vision of their own role extends beyond tending to the individual. Almost like a medical specialty. Which would not be your route of the moment (getting an MD and then an MPH!).

However, I can say that it might be a direction for you to consider given your goals. In addition to doctors with MPHs, I have known a good handful of people for whom this is their professional degree. They have run clinics in underserved communities, coordinated statewide HIV prevention and service programs, collaborated with MDs to find ways to provide services which support not only the provision of healthcare, but also enhance overall well-being for people who face medical and social challenges. This would be a great qualification to work for--or even start-- an advocacy organization as well.
 

Judee

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I don't know if anything would come of this suggestion but I think Dr Leonard Jason PhD is at one of the Universities in Chicago. He studies ME and per the following also is an ME patient.

Maybe they have an opening either in their program or as a job.???

https://me-pedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Jason

I mean it would be a very cold climate to live in and taxes are high in Illinois but maybe you could live in Indiana or Wisconsin (both still very cold) and commute???
 
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Public health could be an option for you based on your interest to help people using social science/humanities skills. There are many disciplines within public health that a person can focus on - health policy, advocacy, management, behavior, education, epidemiology, environmental health, statistics, just to name a few.

The career options are very broad depending on which sort of track you choose - you would definitely not be restricted to business consulting. However, if salary is a factor for you, some career tracks will be much more lucrative than others since you could be working for a consulting agency or a non-profit.

If you need sponsorship to work in the U.S., you should look into what jobs would be available to you. Sometimes companies do not sponsor non-citizen candidates for internships/work experience required for grad programs so it could be more challenging to obtain work than your peers.

Social work or counseling also seems like a good area to go into. Social workers and counselors/therapists who are educated/knowledgeable about ME/CFS are much needed!
 
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If you would like to become more involved in ME/CFS, you might explore the various ME organizations to see what they offer and whether there are ways to get involved. You may already know of MEAction, which has both a national group as well as some state chapters. For example - I think there is an active group in Colorado, where I see you are considering a move.

MEAction is planning advocacy and awareness events for May, so potentially another opportunity to use your skills and experience to help out.

There's also the Solve ME/CFS org, which is now gearing up for its annual advocacy campaign. Possibly something else to look into.
 

gm286

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Thank you all for your responses.

I reached out through an online Join Us form with MEAction, and will also reach out to Emily Taylor personally. Was fortunate enough to be able to reach David Tuller on FB, he suggested that I call him to discuss / brainstorm the MPH degree...

@wingate I was selected last year for further processing in the U.S. Diversity Immigrant visa program (I won the U.S. lottery basically). It will allow me and my husband this year to land in the U.S. and automatically gain U.S. Permanent Residency (= automatic right to work). This was a stroke of pure luck, and I would not have considered returning to the U.S. if I did not have PR status ; would have returned to Canada instead, as I am also a Canadian citizen.

I'm currently broadening my scope and applying last-minute to a few more programs... Since I would really like to move to the Bay Area, I'm looking at:
- MPH offered at University of San Francisco
- MA in Counseling / Family Therapy at USF
- MA in Family and Consumer Services at SFSU (an interior design degree ; I've had a lifelong interest and my partner is an architect)

The MPH degree offers two options for me ; will ask Tuller which would be better suited to contributing to ME/CFS organizations in the future.

Behavior Health = The goal of the Behavioral Health concentration in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program is to prepare graduates to address behavioral health issues in local and global communities within a public health framework, using evidence-based, theory-informed, integrated and holistic, social justice approaches. The concentration courses provide training in behavioral health, health promotion, and integrated service delivery for vulnerable populations. Students in this concentration also will be prepared and eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, which is a nationally recognized credential for leaders and practitioners of health education and promotion.

Community and Public Health Practice =
The MPH Community and Public Health Practice concentration prepares future health professionals for a variety of employment opportunities in the public health field. Students learn to address public health issues in local and global settings using evidence-based strategies and working in collaboration with community partners. The concentration has a focus on training health professionals to design and implement community-driven and community-level strategies and interventions.
Students receive rigorous training in quantitative and qualitative methods including epidemiology, biostatistics, and applied research methods, as well as advanced coursework in program planning, management, and evaluation. Students also may choose electives in sexual health, mental health, health economics, maternal and child health, food agriculture and nutrition, global health, or other topics.