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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

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