Hepatitis C and Academia

Hepatitis C is now considered to be a treatable and curable illness. This can make it easy for many to misunderstand the seriousness of this diagnosis and to severely underestimate the impact it can have on someone’s body and their life. Though most concerns and needs to alter lifestyle are discussed during office visits to the local doctor, there can be some specific needs that may go unmet, especially for those in the niche world of academia.

For Professors

There are fewer and fewer tenured professors in academia these days. This can mean that every professor feels a push to teach more courses and to publish more papers. Some may find this grueling schedule nearly impossible to maintain while also managing or treating their hepatitis C. You may choose to try to limit your schedule, in order to ensure that you have enough time to attend all necessary doctor’s appointments and to rest when your body needs to slow down. This may mean taking a small break from the preparation of publishing, to focus more on the teaching aspect of the job. Those who are teaching may decide to reconsider their syllabus, swapping out tougher to grade assignments for more computerized tests which can be much easier to grade or which may be electronically automatically graded. Others may decide to request a school term off from teaching and may prefer to study and work from home to prepare for their next publication. This might allow them to work from comfortable clothing, on a comfortable couch, or in other locations that will allow for calm days and no requirement to leave home if the body begs for rest. If this is your experience, it is important to discuss your concerns with your doctor. Some of the symptoms may be treatable and your doctor can also help you to understand whether this is a natural part of the healing process or if you may need to be referred to a medical specialist or mental health professional.

For Adjunct Professors

In a world where there are always more adjunct professors than there are courses to teach, it can be easy for someone to try to force themselves to overdue their work in order to show their worth to the boss. While this may be grueling in the easiest circumstances, it can certainly wear on a person whose body is already struggling, due to hepatitis C or due to side effects of medication. While taking time off may be impossible, some adjunct professors may choose to alter their syllabus to lighten their load. Electronically scored multiple choice tests can calm some pressures and group assignments and projects in class can lead students to become teachers, which can allow some to learn better, as well as taking some of the load of lesson planning and lecturing off of an adjunct’s shoulders.

For Support Staff

When working in academia as a support person, it may be difficult to request time off to rest due to the common exhaustion from hepatitis C and its medication side effects. It may not be financially feasible to afford the medications and the rest of the bills if time is taken away from the work week. If this is the case for you, it may make sense to discuss your temporary needs with your supervisor. They may be able to help to shift the workload between yourself and your colleagues in order to try to adjust your work to your abilities during treatment. If this is not possible, it may be helpful to lessen social plans so that there is time to rest during non-working hours. However, if work is feeling impossible due to treatment, it is important to visit your doctor to discuss what alterations or additions to medication plans can occur in order for you to maintain your career during the treatment process.

For Students

Students in the midst of their academic careers are often known to be overwhelmed and overloaded. Adding a medical condition such as hepatitis C can feel exhausting and can cause some students to reach a breaking point. Many colleges offer free or low-cost mental health care through licensed professionals on campus. In addition, many offer medical support as well. If your school has these options, it may help your schedule to choose to visit these on-campus professionals, in order to maintain as much of your schedule as possible while still ensuring that your physical and mental health needs are taken care of and are being properly addressed. It is important to let the treating physician know if you are interested in transferring your care to a campus medical team or if you are considering beginning mental health treatment so that the transition can be as seamless as possible and so that medical records can reflect these changes.1-5

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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