Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Summary: Mendez, Turner and Kaminsky

Mendez discusses her experience as an immigrant from Colombia. She uses her difficult background as inspiration to help others in similar situations. She finds the healthcare system frustrating and finds that immigrants and other foreign people often slip through the cracks. Mendez is forced into the role of the interpreter for family members and through this experience finds work with other people in similar situations. She becomes a translator for spanish speaking patients as well as an advocate for immigrants in general. Through her life as a student, Mendez came to realize that it is extremely difficult for immigrants to receive higher education and therefore benefit the community. She fought for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors act which would allow them to attend higher institutions and contribute fully to the country they inhabit. This bill has still not passed but Mendez has managed to raise a lot of awareness. She does something that I thought was really similar to what the German women who had had abortions did. She had immigrants stand up and say they had immigrated and wanted the chance at higher education. This act of bravery, I'm sure, inspired many others to help in the fight as well. The other connection I saw to other readings we've done in class is her mention of feeling so great that she's not tied down by children or family so that she can accomplish the things she wants to do. It is clear by her saying this that she would be hindered (Mommy taxed) by having kids in her life. Mendez continues to fight to shrink the gap in healthcare and by supporting language interpretation and representing minorities.

Turner is a strong, black, athletic woman who was always encouraged by her parents to do her best and strive for her goals. She mentions that she grew up to "think male" and that it has influenced the decisions and strides she has made. This made me think of the strategy of many women in the workplace to act like men in terms of competitive edges and not having babies until later in life. It seems to be a strategy that works quite well and allows a lot of women to succeed and definitely worked for Turner. Turner is dedicated to public health and worked for Baltimore's needle exchange program. Her focus is on creating systems that allow the people who really need help to have access and convenience for getting in. On this note, she talks about the DOT program which brings HIV medicine directly to where they provide the needle exchange. The needle exchange also works directly with the Baltimore Substance Abuse System so that if someone does want to quit their addiction the resources are right there for them. When talking the road blocks she faced, Turner specifically notes her age and gender. As far as age, she said that many city organizations wouldn't take her seriously because of it. Also, the fact that she was a woman sometimes made it difficult dealing with women who were HIV positive because they thought she was going to judge them. I think this is really important to notice that the culture still instills this women vs. women competition. She even mentions this by saying "In a world filled with bias, stigma, and skepticism, the last thing anyone needs is to be judged" (113). Turner hopes to generate change by looking at the "roots" of public health issues and working from the ground up.

As young women in this feminist age, people tend to turn up their noses or give judgmental looks when a girl says she wants to be a nurse. It is considered a time when girls should be saying that they want to be doctors, lawyers, or the president. Now that we have been given the ability to reach for the stars, why would anyone want to strive to be anything less? However, Kaminsky points out that nursing is a really stunning and even feminist profession. It is an academic and scientific field staffed almost entirely by women with women in almost all the top positions. There is great demand for nurses because of the shortage. Therefore, people are willing to pay high wages, give great benefits, and be flexible about hours. She notes that this is actually the perfect profession for a mother because it is so flexible, surprising that it is generally considered a woman's job then. Kaminsky comments on the change in relationship between physician and nurse and how it is less patriarchal than it has been in the past and there is a feeling of mutual respect. She argued that an increase in demand would place a higher value on the job, however I'm not sure if that is quite accurate and is the only issue I have with her piece. Although there is more need for nursing, I tend to think of great need as a clue that it is an undesirable job rather than the opposite.