Adriana Corredor-Waldron: When health meets economy

Adriana Corredor-Waldron: When health meets economy

Adriana Corredor-Waldron has always had a heart for people on the margins of society. In her new role as Assistant Professor of Microeconomics at Poole College of Management, she will continue to turn her economic focus on health policies that impact the medically disadvantaged while helping students discover their own passions at the intersection health care and the economy.

Q&A with Adriana Corredor-Waldron

What sparked your initial interest in economics?

I pursued an undergraduate degree in economics at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, my hometown, because I was intrigued by how economics affects daily life. I have always had an interest in the social sciences, with a particular interest in statistical analysis, and I also appreciated how economics provided tools for analyzing political issues.

I have always had an interest in the social sciences, with a particular interest in statistical analysis, and I also appreciated how economics provided tools for analyzing political issues.

How did you decide to focus on topics related to health policy? What were your first research topics?

As a doctoral student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), I left thinking that I would study the economics of developing countries. I changed direction when I took a labor economics course that briefly touched on the US healthcare market. I found that I really enjoyed looking at topics related to Medicaid because of its impact on the low-income population. The more I read about the difficulties people face in accessing health services, the more attracted I was.

My thesis explored how Medicare payments affect the willingness of nursing homes to accept Medicaid beneficiaries. What I’ve found is that when Medicare increases its fees, nursing homes that are operating near capacity begin to reduce the number of Medicaid patients they accept. I also co-authored a paper on the relationship between suicides, mortality, and prescription drug monitoring programs, a research direction I pursued as a postdoctoral associate at Princeton University. This project sparked my interest in research related to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Why did you decide to study health policy in academia?

I like the freedom offered by an academic institution like NC State. I have a lot more flexibility in what research projects I can pursue than I would in other environments. I also have more time to study the problems in depth. Sometimes projects can take years, but you learn a lot along the way.

What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching?

The best part of being a teacher is seeing the progress of students over time. I watch them become more curious, more thoughtful, and more comfortable in front of a class.

The best part of being a teacher is seeing the progress of students over time. I watch them become more curious, more thoughtful, and more comfortable in front of a class. I currently teach health economics and policy, and it’s rewarding to train students to think about health issues like an economist.

What health policy topics are ripe for more research?

I have a whole folder full of ideas! There are so many unanswered questions. One issue I am currently examining is why black mothers end up having more C-sections, regardless of risk factors. We also need more research on topics such as caring for people with disabilities in a community setting and preventing people with mental disorders from ending up in prison.

What advice would you give to students wishing to build a career at the intersection of economics and health?

First, stay up to date on current events. Read as many healthcare-related stories as possible – it’s a great way to understand what we’re debating these days. Second, focus on building data analysis skills. The market places a high premium on data literacy, so even if you don’t plan to enter academia, you’ll need to be comfortable with machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence, and other analytical tools.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I really like hiking. Luckily, North Carolina is the perfect place to hike! I also like to dance salsa and travel. I try to come back to Colombia at least once a year.

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