Many different opinions of the healthcare industry exist today. Some feel that healthcare is currently too expensive and needs to be cheaper to ensure that everyone has care. Some would like to see homeopathy take off, giving alternatives to FDA-approved medicines as viable treatments. Many agree that healthcare is currently in a great spot, as technological advances allow for better treatment of diseases never before possible until now. My experience with the healthcare industry in general has been largely shaped by my parents and family, namely because both of my parents are Doctors of Pharmacy (PharmD). There have been many instances of how their influence shaped my view of healthcare, and now that I am working in healthcare myself, I have found that their initial guidance greatly helped me in my introduction to the industry.
It is well known and documented that children have a knack for getting themselves – and those around them – sick. As a child, whenever I caught a cough, the sniffles or congestion, my parents would not hesitate to give me the necessary medication. They always encouraged me to let them know when I was feeling sick and would even tell me to keep bothering them if they didn’t listen the first time. Other peers my age were not as lucky. One of my friends had two chiropractors as parents, and while he always had a well-adjusted spine and seemed to always have the latest herbal remedy on hand, his cough and cold symptoms never seemed to go away! By introducing me to medicine that worked quickly and effectively from a young age, my parents were able to show the power of medicine.
In addition to learning about the importance of knowing my body and listening to it, I also learned about the expensive nature of drugs and the problems that this brings for many patients. The irony here is that even my parents could not answer the question of why prescription drugs are so expensive or how to drive those costs down. You would think that having two parents in the industry would lend some insight into this issue, but our family was always just as frustrated and in the dark as our neighbors.
While other countries allow for negotiations over price to occur, the United States allows drugmakers to set their own prices. Some may suggest that these negotiations should be implemented to drive costs down, but this change would come with a caveat. If negotiations were allowed, this would make pharmaceutical research a less desirable industry for investors, as their net gains would be lower. Over time, this could cause lowered investment in drug research, and less innovative cures coming to market.
As I got older, I began to pay closer attention to the actual work involved in a career as a pharmacist, and more broadly, in healthcare. Healthcare is unique in that there is a real quantifiable impact that one can have on people’s lives. Especially in my home state, New Jersey, there are a great deal of career opportunities to work in healthcare. Pharmacists work long hours, but my parents both love the impact that they are able to have on so many families. Even though careers in healthcare may be difficult and stressful, people still flock to them as they get a sense of fulfillment from the work that healthcare provides. While I didn’t follow the pharmacy route, working in healthcare marketing enables me to support many companies that make a difference in people’s lives every day.
One final important lesson I learned – both from my pharmacist parents and from my experiences in healthcare marketing – is the importance of proper communication. Especially in a field where we are dealing with people’s lives, proper positioning and demystifying misconceptions is critical. There are times when the healthcare industry receives a bad rap, sometimes very rightfully so – we can all think of examples of injustice. Even at times when the bad press may be unwarranted, the onus is on the companies within the industry to ensure that all communication is accurate, well-positioned and properly addresses patients’ and doctors’ concerns.
My initiation to the healthcare industry was certainly different than most people’s first experience with it. Having parents who work in this industry allowed me to see the overwhelming amount of good that healthcare professionals can bring. Their guidance even encouraged me to pursue a career in healthcare myself. I feel grateful that I have the experiences that I do, as I feel that I too can help people find new treatments and solutions to various conditions. In healthcare communications, we are able to educate patients, doctors and journalists about the great things happening in medicine and address how they can be leveraged to enhance quality of life. My roots in healthcare certainly play a role in the passion I have for the industry today.