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“What I need to know, from the bottom up is what’s really going on,” Dr. Ocasio-Cortés, 52, told the audience Saturday. “If that’s how you think about health, I’m not talking to you. The other thing I’m talking about is the culture we live in.”
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At one point, during a break, Dr. Ocasio said that the problem was not the lack of medical information, but the way doctors were trained to think about it as if they were “scientists on a quest” to discover some new discovery.
“You know what, guys,” she said. “You’re not scientists on the quest. Instead, it’s an information-processing problem — our brain doesn’t process all this information. Sometimes the information just seems to wash out of the brain.”
And so, at some point, it just makes people feel bad. She pointed to the number of young people who struggle to finish graduate school without a degree.
“And I’m not making a moral judgment,” she explained. “But I think that sometimes the education people think they need to get a degree — the same type of education, the same kind of content — and then get out of that university system — that’s really not what’s going on.”
She added, “How can that work?”
Dr. Ocasio-Cortés’ speech was a reminder to young Americans that a degree is a ticket to economic mobility, a means to a better job — a road map to the “American Dream.”
In addition to her health talk, she used the occasion to urge young people to join a growing number of health care advocacy groups aimed at reducing discrimination against minorities by focusing on people’s health.
“In health, people are more likely to report that they have less, even if it’s not statistically significant,” she said. “So what we do need to do is identify communities that have the highest rates of people who are not getting access to their health care, which is really important to health for everyone.”
Her presentation drew large applause, and her words brought her
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