Master of Public Health Student
When Lauren Fayish left her home state of Pennsylvania to join a yearlong AmeriCorps service program in Charlotte, North Carolina, involving HIV/AIDS prevention and care, she expected to focus primarily on the people with whom she directly worked: HIV-positive patients and young adults in prevention classes. Soon, Fayish realized that addressing HIV/AIDS required a broader approach.
“Individual health does not exist in a vacuum,” says Fayish. “Our level of health is indelibly linked to that of our neighbors, whether it’s in the quality of the food and water we consume, the diseases that we spread to one another or in the community infrastructure that impacts our lifestyle.”
Fayish came to see that social and community contexts can be barriers to good health, an understanding that shaped her motivation to further study and work in public health. And it was an even earlier experience that led to her interest in integrating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into the field. When Fayish was 16, her mother began a 3-year-long battle with a fatal lung cancer. While doctors used Western medicine to fight and kill the cancer, her mother employed CAM therapies to deal with side effects of surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. “With her added focus on nutrition and CAM, I saw that my mother became empowered to take control of her health, to fortify her body and mind to a higher state of well-being,” says Fayish.
At the Bloomberg School, Fayish plans to study the role of CAM in improving patient empowerment and health care usage. “My focus will be on gaining quantitative research and evaluation skills to apply to my areas of professional interest,” Fayish says. She hopes to create a health care model inclusive of patient education, CAM therapies and an array of allied health care professionals.