Making Health a Priority: How good we have it

By Kiley Owen, PA-C

It's Memorial Day weekend as I write this. As I think about those who have served our country, I think about the gifts they have given us and how truly fortunate we are in the United States. 

I think about what it means to live in a country known for its opportunityfreedom, and abundance.  

Before I became a PA, I worked with international students, first teaching English to non-native speakers, then later directing an international office at a community college.

American flag with stethoscope imageThe international students taught me a lot. I learned about how things are in other parts of the world. I became aware of the many advantages we have in the U.S., which we often take for granted.

Some of the international students I met had faced incredible odds to make it to this country. Some were here with the help of multiple family members, who had pooled their life savings together, investing in the student's education, in hopes it would improve their futures. 

These students took their education very seriously. I admired how they made the most of the gift they'd been given. They worked so hard. They could be found in the library early in the morning and late into the night. They not only had the challenge of demanding course material, but also learning it in a different language.  

That kind of appreciation, effort, and dedication have been an inspiration to me. It has challenged me to do a better job with the gifts I've been given.  

When I think about the many aspects of good health (physical, mental, spiritual, intellectual, social, financial, environmental), I realize how good we have it in the U.S.

Thankful woman with hands clasped and rainbow in the backgroundThe majority of us have access to healthy food, clean water, and shelter. We do not have the same safety concerns that people in other parts of the world face. We have access to health care. (It's not a perfect system, but it's better than most.) We have freedom of religion and freedom of expression. We have access to education and are encouraged to be anything we want to be, at any point in life. There is no limit to what we can achieve or the difference we can make in the lives of others.

I'm not saying that everything is perfect or that things cannot be improved. And this post is not intended to sound political in any way. 

I just think it's important to remind ourselves of these precious gifts, so that we can make good use of them, remembering that many people in the world are not so fortunate, and remembering the price that was paid by others so that we might enjoy such gifts.

Kiley Owen is a physician assistant, blogger and preventive health enthusiast. This post, first published May 29, 2016 — along with helpful links to other resources — originally appeared on her blog, makinghealthapriority.com.