Skip to content

When healthcare gets personal

Marie Schulte-​​Bockum, SSH’17, had embraced the spirit of expe­ri­en­tial learning before enrolling at North­eastern. After grad­u­ating high school, she held intern­ships in London and Taiwan, where she gained cru­cial expe­ri­ence before heading to col­lege. Now at North­eastern, she is applying that knowl­edge to her cur­rent co-​​op posi­tion at the Insti­tute for Health­care Improve­ment, a non­profit based in Cam­bridge, Mass.

Schulte-​​Bockum is part of IHI’s new busi­ness devel­op­ment team, which is respon­sible for over­seeing bur­geoning busi­ness part­ner­ships. She’s also involved in the pilot for a new course on end-​​of-​​life care in its Open School pro­gram, which includes more than 20 free classes on six topics including lead­er­ship, patient safety, and quality improvement.

“IHI’s three aims are to lower costs, improve quality, and improve pop­u­la­tion health,” explained Schulte-​​Bockum, a com­bined major in inter­na­tional affairs and eco­nomics. “It sounds simple, but improving care and low­ering cost at the same time are some­times mutu­ally exclu­sive goals that we spend years finding cre­ative solu­tions for.”

Schulte-​​Bockum con­nected with IHI in part because of her sister’s life-​​saving expe­ri­ence in Germany’s uni­versal health­care system. Luisa Schulte-​​Bockum was born with a heart defect wherein the pul­monary vein and the aorta were switched, causing her heart to receive deoxy­genated blood. Her family lived in Ham­burg at the time and the closest spe­cialist capable of dealing with a new­born baby with this con­di­tion was in Berlin. Without uni­versal health cov­erage, they would not have been able to afford the heli­copter flight there, where Luisa under­went emer­gency surgery. Partly thanks to the heart surgery and care she received as a new­born, Luisa is now a var­sity ath­lete at Cor­nell University.

“At IHI we hear inspi­ra­tional sto­ries like this every day. But we also hear about overly expen­sive pro­ce­dures and fatal errors. Most of these mis­takes result from broken sys­tems, not errors made by physi­cians,” Schulte-​​Bockum said. “In Europe, we have public health care, see it as the status quo, and rely on it. I’m inspired by this model to bring afford­able and reli­able health­care to everyone.”

Schulte-​​Bockum is but one of 15 North­eastern stu­dents working on co-​​op at IHI to improve global health­care poli­cies. “The staff here at IHI is inspi­ra­tional and comes from all over the world,” she said. “There are mul­tiple dif­ferent accents in the office and during phone calls, but everyone speaks the same lan­guage of better healthcare.”

Last month, she told the Twit­ter­verse why co-​​op has trans­formed her life using the hashtag #iheart­coop. “@Northeastern I #iheart­coop at the Insti­tute for Health­care Improve­ment (#IHI) because busi­ness meet­ings are about saving lives. #Feels­Good,” she tweeted.

– By Jordana Torres

More Stories

Photo of the Capitol Building at night

High stakes for politics, SCOTUS in 2018

Photo of the crashed truck that was used in the October 31st attack in Manhattan.

Weaponizing Language: How the meaning of “allahu akbar” has been distorted

Northeastern logo

Why I love studying Spanish