Campus: University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Class of 2012
Hometown: Wilson, North Carolina
At the forefront of health care reform
It may start with a lifelong calling to serve others or a personal experience with a health issue. Either way, master of public health students at the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH) enroll in the school because they want to change the lives of people in their communities.
For Fran Benton, student in the master of public health program in health systems, management & policy, working on Capitol Hill and volunteering in Sub-Saharan Africa exposed her to the shortfalls of health systems here and abroad.
As an assistant communications director in a Senate press office in Washington, Fran directed media outreach for proposed health care legislation and initiatives. From developing media strategies and running press conferences, Fran was at the forefront of health care reform; yet wanted to see more of the country’s health care gap reduced.
“Even though you may work for a smart, savvy policymaker with outstanding ideas to write legislation, it takes an incredible amount of support from Congress and pressure from voters to pass laws,” explains Fran.
Wanting to also examine health care services abroad, Fran travelled with a friend to Malawi to volunteer on an infant malnutrition research study. While assisting medical personnel distribute nutritional supplements, she saw some of Malawi’s most vulnerable children. Nearly half of Malawi’s population lives on less than $1 a day, triggering malnutrition and high child mortality rates across the country. “The nutritional formula being distributed equaled life for a baby suffering from malnutrition,” she says.
When Fran returned to the United States, she began to think about the health of children in her own country and wanted to examine the shortfalls that leave our country’s children without health insurance or access to care.
“As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the United States should be able to provide health care for its children,” says Fran. “I decided to pursue a master in public health to help close the gap in our country's health care system.”
Fran left the East Coast and decided to move to Denver, Colo. to focus on health care on the local level and enjoy the state’s “majestic mountains”. She enrolled at CSPH to gain the hands-on experience, connections and knowledge she’ll need to combat health disparities in our nation.
“The debate about how to improve the quality of health care is everywhere,” comments Fran. “Congress passed a comprehensive reform bill, but the implementation among the private and public sector will be the true test to see how these reforms shape people's health.”
“There is a tremendous amount of change yet to happen, and as public health students we will get to be a part of this process.”
After Fran finishes her degree, she would like to work for a hospital or foundation. She hopes to shape new models of care for the uninsured and strengthen the country’s health care services.