As we celebrate International Education Week, I recall my days spent as a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Fellow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 2010-11 academic year. My Fellowship paved the way for future professional opportunities within the health policy sphere. During my grant period, I was a student in the M.A. program in Critical Disability Studies at York University which is housed within the York University School of Health Policy & Management. During my graduate studies, I engaged in comparative health policy research, concerning the Province of Ontario (Canada) and the State of New York (United States).
After my Fulbright Fellowship was over, I found myself with not only an M.A. in Critical Disability Studies but also with a framework to pursue professional opportunities that involved health policy, whether they were domestically or internationally focused. In 2012, I began using research from my Fulbright days as a basis for health policy research for the Hospice Care Network (HCN) of North Shore-LIJ (NSLIJ) Health System. HCN, like the health care system in which it resides, is located in the New York City area. The focus of my research was the impact of the new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare,” on hospice and palliative care. Obamacare made some changes to Medicare funding that were meant to improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs, by moving Medicare providers away from a fee-for-service payment model. For example, tests and procedures that do not contribute to the health of a patient would no longer be ordered. The hope is that such actions would bring about significant cost savings over time for the U.S. health care system.
After I finished my duties at HCN, I interned at a non-governmental organization (NGO), known as the International Disability Alliance (IDA). IDA works on disability policy at the United Nations (UN), and the transnational nature of UN policy work was a fertile environment for someone who already had policy research experience in more than one country. My projects at IDA saw me analyzing the language of UN resolutions and conventions, particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). I also helped to prepare my superiors for meetings with various diplomats. All of my work led up to the Fifth Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the UN CRPD, The COSP represents an annual meeting where UN Member States that are parties to the Convention send delegations to report on and discuss actions related to implementation. At the COSP, I participated in speech writing and the recording of events.
My Fulbright experience not only taught me about health policy and foreign exchange, while I was in-country, but it also gave me the tools to succeed professionally long into the future. My accomplishments both during and after my Fulbright Fellowship have provided me with the wherewithal to continue on a path of discovery and success. I would highly recommend the Fulbright Program to anyone interested in developing his or her individual potential.
Andrew graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Political Science. He Earned an M.A. in Critical Disability Studies, from York University in Toronto, Canada, while on a Fulbright Fellowship in Canada.