Caregiving From a Distance While at College
Published: February 18, 2022
My mom Dana has suffered from Crohn’s disease for the majority of her life. While I do not know what it feels like to have a flare-up or undergo a laparoscopic bowel resection surgery as my mother has, there is something that I do know: there are concrete ways that we, as caregivers, can improve the lives of our IBD warriors.
If I had the medical skills, I certainly would be working in a laboratory to cure Crohn’s and colitis. Given that my public policy major does not lend itself to a gastroenterology career, however, I have found other ways to contribute—even from a distance in college, while I’m nearly 500 miles away from home.
Here’s some tips that I have for other college-aged caregivers:
STEM majors can perform research or shadow gastroenterologists
There are many different ways that you can fuse your academic interests with finding cures for IBD. For those of you who are STEM majors, I believe that one of the most fulfilling (and impactful!) contributions a person can make is through scientific research. Believe it or not, I used to dream of becoming a doctor before pursuing public policy. Back in the summer of 2014, I asked Dr. Thomas Ullman if I could shadow him for a few weeks. I witnessed colonoscopies, endoscopies, and PEG tube placements at Mount Sinai Hospital. With this experience, I became more knowledgeable about IBD and could have been well-equipped to pursue future research in this field.
Non-STEM majors can find alternate ways to contribute (e.g. lobbying or advocacy)
If you find yourself interested in the humanities, however, there are still many creative ways you can make an impact on the IBD community. Once I discovered my passion for public policy, I realized that I could become a changemaker through advocacy. Every spring, I travel to Capitol Hill with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation for their annual Day On The Hill event, lobbying for the Safe Step Act and Medical Nutrition Equity Act. These two bills would expand the flexibility of insurance plans and make healthcare more accessible for IBD warriors. If you, too, are interested in politics, then consider joining me at Day On The Hill this April 2022!
If there’s one takeaway from this blog post, I hope you’ve learned some ways to combine your academic pursuits with finding cures for Crohn’s and colitis. If you think of some new opportunities, please feel free to reach out to me via the NCCL’s Instagram page @crohnsandcolitisnccl.
Chloe Hubbe is a member of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's National Council of College Leaders.