Intimacy and Federalism
Growing up around Charlotte, I was familiar with the name Anthony Foxx, but all I knew about him was that he had been Charlotte’s mayor. Through my involvement with the Davidson Democrats, I heard that he was coming to Davidson. My friend mentioned that he had been head of the Department of Transportation and worked with her dad in the Obama administration. The Department of Transportation doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as, say, the Department of Defense, but I figured I would go because a lot of my close friends were going. Surprisingly, it forced me to change how I thought about transportation, and I rethought how I could make an impact in the medical field.
Foxx discussed the intersection of transportation infrastructure and city planning with race, healthcare, and the economy. I had never thought of it that way before. The way highways, bridges, and railways are used to segregate races and classes. He also mentioned how the work he did directly impacted the everyday lives of Americans, which was the most salient idea I gleaned from his talk. A lot of policy decisions are so abstract that it can be a while before they impact everyday citizens, but people use roads, trains, hospitals, and sidewalks every single day.
As a doctor, I am limited to working from within the existing healthcare system. I can only help the patient right in front of me which, while important, is not where my ambitions lie. I had realized this earlier in the semester, so I figured I would pursue working on national healthcare policy. However, this is too impersonal. What Foxx made me realize is that working through city government will allow me to fix intricate systems, while still maintaining an intimate distance with the people I’m trying to help.
Following his talk, I went back to my dorm and binged city planning videos until 5 A.M., and I had an 8:30 class! I now have realized my love for healthcare isn’t in being a doctor directly but in public health and city government.