Okay, so here goes! Lately I have been getting a lot of questions about how to get involved in the reproductive health care field. I must say, it’s very exciting to hear that more and more people are becoming interested in reproductive health.
My first bit of advice is to volunteer somewhere. Volunteering will allow you to determine if the field is right for you. It’s also important to note that there are a lot of things that someone can do within the field of reproductive health. Volunteering may help you decide which field is right for you. A few examples include: policy/advocacy, clinical, research and education.
Policy/Advocacy work: Working to create or change laws regarding reproductive health.
Clinical work: A health professional, such as a nurse or doctor, who provides reproductive health services.
Research: Research is the detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding of a subject. Research is the foundation of policy and advocacy work.
Education: Reproductive health education in itself is a large field. Reproductive health educators work directly with patients in clinics or hospitals (like what our health educators here at New Generation Health Center do). Reproductive health educators also teach in high schools and colleges or they may develop education materials and curriculum.
Again, these are just a few examples of some of the fields within reproductive health and by no means an exhaustive list. But like I mentioned earlier, the best way to determine if reproductive health is right for you is to volunteer somewhere. Not only will you be discovering if it is the right field for you, you will also be helping lots of people along the way.
Here are a few places within the California Bay Area that accept volunteers (I have included the organizations mission statement to give you an idea about who they are & what they do). I should mention that every organization has different requirements and protocols for accepting volunteers – please check their website or contact them directly for specifics!
The Women’s Community Clinic (this is where I got my start in reproductive health and they are AMAZING):
The mission of the Women’s Community Clinic is to improve the health and well-being of women and girls.
- We believe preventive, educational care is essential to lifelong health and that all women deserve excellent health care, regardless of their ability to pay.
- We work hard to ensure that each client feels comfortable and safe using her voice to direct the care she receives.
Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. We believe that respect and value for diversity in all aspects of our organization are essential to our well-being. We believe that reproductive self-determination must be voluntary and preserve the individual’s right to privacy. We further believe that such self-determination will contribute to an enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships.
Lyon-Martin Health Services is committed to providing quality, compassionate, innovative care. Our patients are women, lesbians, transgender and genderqueer people. Our patients are diverse in age, diverse in ethnicity and diverse in social circumstance. We advocate for the improved health and healthcare of all people, especially the populations we serve. We understand that we must both provide health care today and shape the health care of tomorrow.
Backline promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for the full spectrum of decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion. Through direct service and social change strategies, Backline is building a world where all people can make the reproductive decisions that are best for their lives, without coercion or limitation, and where the dignity of lived experiences is affirmed and honored.
In addition to volunteering, these are some awesome ways to learn more about reproductive health. Again, I’ve included the organization’s mission statement but check out their websites for more specific information.
The mission of the SFSI training is to train people to provide accurate, nonjudgmental sex information to the public. At the end of training, a trainee should make significant progress in basic sex information, communication and education skills, and personal insight.
Coursera: A FREE online course beginning 1/28/2013!
Contraception: Choices, Culture and Consequences
This course gives a broad overview of contraceptive methods and explores issues that influence contraceptive choices today.
Sexual Health Educator Certificate
The curriculum for the Sexual Health Educator Certificate will train students as paraprofessionals in safe and healthy sexuality including violence prevention and intervention, HIV/STD prevention, and the promotion of mature intimate relationships.
Okay, these lists are definitely NOT all the Bay Area has to offer in regards to training and volunteering but it’s a start. Good luck in your search and maybe one day we will colleagues!
In happiness & health,