Career's Curious Confusions
I decided to keep this post less "educational" and more personal. Currently I feel so perplexed with how disjointed health organizations, health initiatives, and health professions operate. Maybe not perplexed, but generally blown away and irritated.
All of "health", meaning the terms, the organizations, the accreditations, the health topics...everything is so impossibly disjointed. And I would like to point out, that in itself is a barrier for people to engage in health. Where does one go? How does one start? There are a million health organizations, all with their specific agendas and focuses. Moreover, when I look into the staff of these organization(s), I often find many who have no formal training in health.
Just recently, I had two people reach out for help to figure out Medicare, and Medicaid. I am sure some of these barriers you have already experienced personally. For the first person, their challenge was simply calling. They kicked us off the phone because the wait time was too long, and that happened every time we called. The next challenge was living in a rural area. This meant the doctor was very far away and booked for the next four days. That is a common problem when in comes to "barriers to health" in rural areas. The second person came to me with a fancy packet that said "Medicare and You", and a list of possible providers. We later found out many don't accept PPO plan or a MMO plans, and since one bill was rejected there was no way to have it covered. So after calling several different levels of Medicare we ended where we started. This is what I mean about the disjointedness.
But what to do from here? We need to lift ourselves up and rise above the seemingly impossibility of it all, and look to simplifying it in our minds. This post would leak into the hundreds of pages if I tried to simplify every possible facet of health. Imagine the list of health organizations, from the unaccredited to the credited! The way I think of it is like this, in broad brush strokes there are two large facets of health:
Post "Health Event"
This would be everything after diagnosis. Examples include: Falling ill, accidents, preventable diseases (i.e. heart attack, stroke), cancer. You get the idea.
Professions here are: Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapist, Medical Doctor, anything/anyone that specializes in helping you after the "health event" occurred.
Pre "Health Event"
This would be everything before the "health event" occurred. Such as falling ill because you didn't wash your hands, falling off your bike without a helmet, and living a sedentary lifestyle with poor nutrition leading to preventable diseases (i.e. heart attack, stroke)
Professions here are: Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer, Nutritionist, Health Educators (like me!), anything/anyone that specializes in helping you optimize your chances of a healthy life before the "health event" occurs.
Obviously some professions bleed into a "gray zones". For example some Nutritionists can help with post "health event" matters, just as Personal Trainers, or Doctors.
Lastly what I would greatly stress is to understand the differences between Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary sources. Primary is published studies or experiments written by individuals who conducted the study. Secondary sources include summaries written by individuals who were not part of the study, Tertiary are compiled summaries, like encyclopedias or "fact-sheets". It is imperative that you are aware of what website or source your health information is coming from. Note, primary sources are only valid if you know the study was performed well. To know how to read health studies takes skills and learning - which is why I pointed out that some organizational staff have no formal health training experience.
Take this brief example from the American Council on Exercise: ProSource - The Weight Loss Issue (one of the publications I read to get my Continuing Education Credits to keep my certifications up to day and write better blogs for you!). In 2012, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, several researches conducted a study on moderate intensity exercise versus high intensity exercise and weight loss. Other professors and researchers in the field poked many holes in its methodology and design. Thus concluding that it was a poorly designed. I was very disappointed to hear that the study did not address the biggest determinant of weight gain or weight loss, your diet. That is inexcusable. Moreover, it was only 13 weeks. Folks, when your working with your body it takes longer than 13 weeks. So, can you guess what happened? The Copenhagen researches published their findings, thus turning it into a "secondary source", then media outlets, including The New York Times, translated it. Like most who do not have the proper health training, the media transformed it to fit an objective opinion. The headline read, "For Weight Loss, Less Exercise May be More." Thus it became a Tertiary source. A bad one at that.
"You - have - got - to - be - kidding - me." Is what I said.
So, to sum up, please don't believe everything you read. Question the source and the best would be to contact a health professional, such as my self, if you really want to get down to the truth. I want to encourage all of you to reach out the broad field of "health promotion". Many of these professionals can help you.
Thanks for reading!