By Emma Blake ’20
In the past several months, I’ve done a lot in my Impact Fellow Role at MAHEC. I’ve helped give presentations to doctors about novel treatment options. I’ve written and prepared an article for publication in a major journal. I’ve familiarized myself with the complexities of maternal healthcare and treatments for substance use disorders. And I’ve done most of these things from home.
Working from home has come with a unique set of benefits and disadvantages. On the positive side, I’ve had more control over when to do my work, and I’ve been able to avoid many of the small frustrations of office life like a morning commute or someone microwaving fish in the break room. On the negative side though, working from home often leaves me feeling disconnected from the work I’m doing, my coworkers, and the community that my work is supposed to support. Zoom meetings are fine for updating the research team on the latest developments, but they can’t replace the small daily interactions between team members that build up our sense of communal support and camaraderie.
What I think I’m missing most is a feeling of community and shared purpose. At Davidson, most of my work was grounded in the community and the feeling that other students and professors had my back. Working from home has led to me only knowing my coworkers as coworkers, not as people with unique stories, interests, and personalities. Even though we’re all working towards the same goal, we’re doing so separately and individually. It’s been a jarring feeling and a challenging adjustment.
The major exception to this feeling is when I go into the maternal healthcare clinic on Thursdays. On those days, I get to interact with patients and talk to my coworkers face-to-face. It’s such a different feeling from a digital meeting. When I work with the patients, I’m reminded that my work is really helping people and making a difference in my newly adopted community of Asheville. I became interested in healthcare generally and the Davidson Impact Fellowship at MAHEC specifically because I wanted to help people and create positive change in my community. Working from home has left me feeling disconnected from that purpose, but my time in the clinic constantly reminds me that my work has value and is serving to benefit people in need. I can’t wait until I can go back to the office, engage with my coworkers in a supportive community, and feel that shared sense of purpose every day.