A day in the life of a Global Health Student | Term 2 Day 4

Today's module title is a mouthful: Contemporary topics in healthcare policy.  Now it sounds super lame, and I totally agree, but the actual module is phenomenally interesting for individuals who never associated policy with epidemiology or health before (like myself).  I never knew how policies worked in terms of their creation, implementation, and then the evaluation step afterwards for potential modification.  This module is graded based on 1 piece of coursework which is a policy analysis and design for implementation in another country, and then 1 short answer hour long exam.

8am: I usually wake up at 7:00am and do the morning deeds to leave the house by 8am to get to uni on time which is at a different campus. On this day, there was a dang polar vortex and I had no idea how I was meant to walk to uni.  I feel my face has frozen to my scarf which is failing to brace the winds and snow.  This beast from the east is climatically confused.  I put on my gazelles which are the closet to winter boots I've got, and head out the door.

9am-11am: Made it one piece but I am sneezing uncontrollably and look like I've seen a ghost.  We have a weekly mini multiple choice test, which some would take lightly but it is 7.5% of our final grade.  I got 4/5 and was heavily disappointed and disagree with the fact that an RCT trial is rendered useless in policy making compared to natural experiments.  However, this type of topic requires you to turn off the epidemiologist inside you which likes to critique and enforce perfection for a proper experiment.  On the other hand, policy makers think that RCTs are incredibly unnatural and subject to too many confounders (which is true but all experiments are) though we learnt that they are the highest level on the hierarchy of evidence.  After going through the multiple choice answers, we begin the lecture portion of the day.  We discussed behavioural economics which is a fairly nifty concept.  It's all about how humans make decisions, and how it is important to evaluate this in order to propose a suitable policy in health.  This includes, but is not limited to, nutrition labels such as the traffic light labels, pictures of individuals who are overweight, calorie percentage, etc.

11am-1pm: Huuuuuuge break.  I spent this break working on my policy assignment in my group.  It is my duty to tackle the policy design portion which requires researching how a policy is designed and implemented in the first place.  We also use the policy triangle (pictured below for effect) and adapted it for our chosen policy.  We've managed to formulate an official piece of work that we are happy to submit.

1pm-3pm: Having two hour stretches can be tiresome and require a lot of resilience and stamina to ensure you stay concentrated.  That is why I actively make notes on my laptop during the lecture or write instead of attempting to absorb the information passively because I know for a fact that I would zone out.  The lecture is a continuation from the morning about various methods of behavioural economics with a focus on nudging.  

3pm-4pm: Another group meeting just to confirm that we are happy with everything.  We read through it together as a group and edit as we go along and do a final edit later that evening separately to ensure that everyone is pleased with its quality. 

4pm-5pm: Walk home!  Again in this polar vortex I walk extremely slow, risking slipping on countless occasions but it's fine.  I may need to invest in snow shoes but I wasn't expecting this kind of weather antics down south.   

My evening routine is fairly similar (and don't want to bore you with the details) but hope you enjoyed this entry!  A final module entry will be coming up next week. But never fear (If you did, which you probably didn't) I will be doing dissertation-based entries as that will take up my entire Term 3 and advice centred around that. 

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