Published in January of this year, Robert Hackey and Todd Olszewski work “Today’s Healthcare Issues: Democrats and Republicans” explores the politics behind the COVID-19 pandemic and many other healthcare issues our country encountered over the last two years. Though Hackey and Olszewski are the listed authors, they worked with a team of 12 Providence College students in order to give students an opportunity to be a part of an incredibly unique independent study. Both Hackey and Olszewski are members of faculty here at PC in the health policy and management department.
The book was originally inspired by a presentation given by ABC-CLIO, a publishing company for academic reference works, who stated that they were looking for someone to write on health care issues from a bipartisan perspective as part of a series entitled “Across the Aisle.” They emphasized bipartisanship, as they wanted to examine both Democrat and Republican responses to the pandemic and healthcare issues. The book not only covers recent political issues regarding COVID-19 and healthcare, but it also looks into historical perspectives and legislative evidence.
Though it can be observed that there has been a particularly great divide between political parties and their take on how the United States should respond to the pandemic, the divide over health care has been a much larger ongoing issue. There is much discourse over who should receive free healthcare, whether free healthcare should even be offered, health insurance, prescriptions, and more.
In this book, Hackey, Olszewski, and their students unpack many of these issues and bring to light both political viewpoints. . In a Zoom meeting with Hackey and Olszewski, they presented a brief overview of what the book would cover as well as discussing the project’s journey. Olszewski spoke about the challenges they overcame, in addition to how monumental it was to have students working on the research side of a book that would soon be published.
“Without our students we couldn’t have done this and I think it’s a true testament to our students that the chapters are as strong as they are,” said Hackey.
One thing they emphasized, which was a very important part of the group’s entire process, was empowered scholarship. At the beginning of group meetings, participants would identify each person’s strengths and weaknesses. This helped to determine where each individual would be best suited for research. They described each person on their team as a piece of a puzzle who came together to create something truly great. Though they had a system to keep track of participation, they still encountered challenges along the way. One of these was time. Students could not lower their course load even while being in such a time-consuming study and were also working on this over zoom throughout the pandemic.
Hackey and Olszewski spoke about the large amount of time and effort that was put into simply forming the chapters and in what order they should go in. The chapters, as well as making sure the book flowed, took a large portion of time. They stated that they had to ensure that all twelve student voices were heard and included throughout the book, which was certainly a challenge. Even through the trials and tribulations of transforming research into an academic chapter of a whole series, their team powered through.
Hackey and Olszewski expressed extreme gratitude to the students they worked with and recounted how different yet amazing it was to work alongside their students turned colleagues.