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A Voice of Health: Barbara Glickstein

Barbara Glickstein

Nurse and activist, Barbara Glickstein, 59, speaks out to help others understand how health issues impact them.

Raised by first-generation Americans, Glickstein, as a small child, would eavesdrop on her parents’ heated political conversations with friends. “I think I was an activist and then I became a nurse.” she said. Her parents saw their role in a democracy as voting and changing a situation themselves instead of complaining about it.

While a student in nursing school, Glickstein volunteered at a nurse-run radio show in New York City after she, herself, was invited onto the show as a guest. This show was a precursor to the current radio program HealthStyles on WBAI 99.5FM. She has since co-hosted this radio program with Dr. Diana Mason for the past 25 years.

They provide a platform for nurses, social workers and occupational therapists among others, who contribute a point of view that, Glickstein says, conventional media often doesn’t provide. When she entered the field of nursing it became clear to her the voices of nurses were missing in conversations around health.

Able to reach over eight million listeners, Glickstein uses the radio program as her health practice presenting complex health policy issues in a way the public can understand.

“The media gets an ‘F’ in coverage of health on the Affordable Care Act”, Glickstein said in reference to recent poll results released by The Kaiser Family Foundation. This study found over 40% of the American population are unaware the ACA, that reforms the U.S. healthcare system, is now a law. It is arguably the most significant piece of federal health legislation passed since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid almost fifty years ago.

Glickstein admits covering health issues can be difficult. “A good journalist can cover a lot of issues but health is pretty tough to cover. You have to understand a lot.”

Many Americans cannot afford health insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid. The ACA, to be implemented in 2014, will expand Medicaid eligibility and will enable other people who still don’t qualify access to government-supported insurance. Glickstein currently works to notify the public of that information through the radio station and the blog, HealthCetera, at the Center for Health Media Policy at Hunter College of which she is the co-founder and director.


Since 2003, Glickstein has been involved with Project Kesher - a feminist, Jewish women’s international organization in Russia and former Soviet republics. It addresses issues such as domestic violence and gender inequality often taught through the lens of what it means to be Jewish. While she was there, the organization started tackling human trafficking.

Glickstein subsequently spoke out against trafficking in the US. “I came back (from Russia) and then knew that this was going on in the United States,” she says. “I realized that I was a nurse and I was here and I need to organize nurses globally around this issue because we're often the eyes and ears of communities.”

At the 2007 New York State Nurses Association Convention, Glickstein delivered the keynote address on the tragedy of human trafficking. This issue was subsequently brought to the attention of the American Nurses Association, which in 2008 passed a resolution to educate nurses on how to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to support and legal services. Addressing ways to confront the third largest illicit trade in the world behind drugs and arms, Glickstein says, “There are 13 million (nurses) worldwide so if we start having this conversation we can do something”.

“The feminization of HIV/AIDS and its rise globally is directly related to sex trafficking.” says Glickstein remarking on its health component. “When more women are forced not to wear condoms and uses unsafe sex in a sex slavery situation, the increase of HIV/AIDS is on the rise.”

Glickstein adds, “The increased rise in tuberculosis and other infectious diseases can (also) be related to trafficking.”

Viewing human trafficking first and foremost as a human rights tragedy, Glickstein believes that coming up with ways to address economic hardships is intrinsic to combatting human trafficking. She says, “When people have access to food, shelter, and jobs they don't have to leave home under vulnerable situations.”

Glickstein acknowledged ways people can do their part to stop human trafficking. She referred to organizations such as Free2Work who provide consumers with information on whether the brands they patronize have products made with slave labor. The Code is another organization that encourages responsible, sustainable tourism by companies in the international tourism industry.

When Glickstein spoke to nursing students recently about human trafficking, they brought new ideas to the fore on how to address the issue that she hadn’t thought of herself. Their creativity encourages Glickstein, who strives to incorporate these new ideas into her work. She freely offers educational presentations to anyone who asks, allowing that collective knowledge be constantly updated and reused.


Glickstein believes that to make a certain change in the world, one first must make that change within themselves. If she wants the people in regions such as Sudan, Israel, Palestine and Afghanistan to talk to each other, she said, she must be able to talk to those whose viewpoints are polar to her own.

Glickstein hopes to personally address this challenge and the prevalence of hate speech and hate crimes as a new board member of the organization, Not In Our Town. The organization works with leaders, schools and law enforcement to reduce hate crimes and increase tolerance. NIOT also partnered with Project Kesher to increase tolerance to cities in Russia and former Soviet republics.

Reflecting on her career, Glickstein says she learned that health is defined in a broader sense than she ever imagined. “As a nurse I created platforms to be that nurse in ways in 1985 when I got my nursing degree I didn't see as part of my future but I've been very grateful that I've been able to work to create that role.”

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.



Mukut's picture

A healer

Barbara Glickstein is awesome. She is doing note worthy work to reach out to so many on such an important topic. And i must add, beautifully written piece Nechesa.

Informative and crisp. I loved it. I told you, not to worry as yours will be an amazing post. And it is.

Well done.


Mukut Ray

Nechesa's picture

Thank you, Mukut

I really do appreciate your words. I learned so much from this first assignment. I can't imagine being the same person after this program ends.

Tonight I relax and treat myself to everyone else's articles...I'm starting with yours, Mukut:)



"... to make a certain change in the world, one first must make that change within themselves."
I like that message very much. This I believe is a key for tolerance and understanding as well as making progress in the right direction.

We have so much to learn from her and her attitude towards bringing positive change.
You have captured her and her story quite well and it flowed with very little effort. Well done :)


bitani's picture


This lady sounds like a complicated person. It is very important to have responsible media programs on health and i liked that you chose such a person to demonstrate leadership. Not only knowledge of correct health info is kind of hard, but also how to communicate these info and to make people follow them in light of the high number of health-entertainment programs.

i also like that you spoke of her professional position and personal position on tolerance and fighting hate speeches.

Keep it up dear .. love (F)

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
—Judy Garland

Nechesa's picture

Thank you, Bitani and Aminah

Thank you so much.

She has such breadth of experience in speaking out I had a hard time editing what to include and what to exclude. I went into the interview thinking I was just going to talk about human trafficking and came out with so much more...including a new dear friend.

JaniceW's picture

Well done

I like how you wove Barbara's nursing and activist background and experience into her work in trafficking. I do not know how many think of nurses as being on the front line in identifying victims and so not only is your piece a compelling portrait of Barbara but you also inform us of how different groups in communities can work together to stop these violations upon women and girls.

Nice work. I look forward to reading more from you.

Nechesa's picture

Thank you!

I really appreciate your comments.

Thank you again,


Iryna's picture

A very good article

Well done, Nechesa! You perfectly handled the limits of words. I was surprised to read about Barbara Glickstein, and more surprised that she is involved into the work against human trafficking in post Soviet countries. In Ukraine this is a huge problem. Young women go abroad thinking that they will work as dancers, waitresses, babysitters, but they get in prison, without documents and with awful conditions. Please, if you will have a chance, say my great respect and warmest greetings to Barbara from Ukraine!
This article touches many important issues. You made it great, Nechesa!

Nechesa's picture

Thanks Iryna

Thanks so much for your words. I certainly will send your regards to her. When I came to interview her, she commented that she took note that one of the correspondents was from Ukraine (wonder who that was;)


libudsuroy's picture

A remarkable woman!

Hi, Nechesa,
You have featured a woman of remarkable perspectives. You have woven an image of someone who is able (and enables others) to connect several global issues like trafficking and human rights and their implications and impact on health (issues) and act/prganize communities who would care passionately for these causes. And how she harnesses the power of media as part of the solutions to lean humanity towards positive change! What a huge audience of 8 million!

I gained a lot from reading your article about the other side of America, the one that I seldom see in the mainstream media. It might be a bit sordid but the activism of individuals and communities are its redeeming features.

I like the way you alternate statements and quotes in the narrative flow.

libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Nechesa's picture

Thank you Lina!

Your words inspire me as I try to figure out what to write for our next assignment.


Greengirl's picture

A different kind of Nurse!

Nachesa, I stand in awe of Barbara Glickstein's ability to combine such engaging social activism roles with her nursing profession. She's is a different kind of Nurse.

Human trafficking and feminization of HIV/AIDS, as well as the linkages between them are front line issues in my country, and so, I understand and identify with the great work that Barbara is doing.

I like the way you wove her story. You did great with the 999 words!


Nechesa's picture

thank you Greengirl!

She is indeed a different kind of nurse that, I believe, personifies the potential in all of us to do great things in whatever position we hold. Thanks for noticing.

See you on the vof circuit:)


Tash's picture

What a career! what a woman!

What a career! what a woman! very informative piece! I am now slowly understanding the American health system!

great work!

Kind Regards,

Nechesa's picture

Thanks Patsy

Thank you so much for your words. I wished I could have given an extra sentence to explain Medicaid (insurance for low-income residents) but I just didn't have enough space. I'm glad you found it informative.


Precious M's picture

A good angle

I love the fact that you refer to Babara as a voice of health because that is really what she is. Great story, great angle.


My pen speaks

Nechesa's picture

Thanks Precious

The title seemed understated but it's really the truth. I was thinking along similar lines of "A voice of reason". I'm glad to hear you like the angle and the title.


jampa's picture


Wonderful piece dear Nechesa,
Thanks for sharing.

Nechesa's picture

Thank you Jampa!

So good to see your post on Shamo too. I really enjoyed reading about her important work on helping girls get an education.


Dear Nechesa,

Thank you for this beautiful profile of Barbara. I am a radio activist as well and can testify to the power of radio when it comes to spreading important information and messages. Barbara's accomplishments are so important as she is a strong advocate for women's health rights.
I want to commend you on your ability to capture Barbara's spirit, philosophy and testimony in this piece, while you also underlined the story that brought her to where she is. You are a strong story teller.
You peaked my curiosity about Barbara's childhood. I would like to know so much more about her and her family's history, which of course you could not include in such a short story.
Well done!

Delphine Criscenzo

Nechesa's picture

Thank you Delphine!

It was a wonderful experience doing this assignment. I was challenged by the breadth of Barbara's experience.

My editorial mentor, Leigh, was an invaluable help to me. I literally could not have done it without her.

I'm so thankful to be a part of this program. I'm learning so much.


Hideko N.'s picture

I am intrigued by

I am intrigued by Glickstein's approach to the issues. She made a certain change in the world because she can make change within herself. ' If she wants the people in regions such as Sudan, Israel, Palestine and Afghanistan to talk to each other, she said, she must be able to talk to those whose viewpoints are polar to her own. ' is something that is very difficult for many. I can talk about my views for hours but not of others. It has made me to think. Thank you. Hideko N

kelley Black's picture

Eye opening and Inspiring

Dear Nechesa -

I am deeply moved by your account of Barbara Glickstein and her mission. Your piece is extremely well written. I feel inspired by this powerful, dedicated woman and your account of her. I like your approach in expanding the way health issues are perceived, particularly the section about sex trafficking and the link to the rise in various disease states.

Barbara's activism as a nurse is particularly poignant to me as she is influencing those in her profession who may regularly treat women who are subjected to abuse and related health issues. You very powerfully illustrate how her actions are influencing an entire profession. Thank you for bringing this inspiring woman to our attention.

My interest is peaked such that I would be deeply interested in hearing more about her family background and what was the the initial experience that she had that moved her to do the activism work she is so committed to.


Pushpa Achanta's picture

Vital topic

Dear Nechesa,

Thanks for penning this unique story beautifully.


Leigh Cuen's picture


Great job! I look forward to reading more of your work.

Leigh Cuen, @La__Cuen
Like Leigh on Facebook

Y's picture

We need to hear about more

We need to hear about more women who are blessed by the relative freedom and equality that are gifts of being born as United States citizens using these gifts to empower those not so fortunate. Thank you for sharing the story of this great woman reaching across the world to promote justice and peace.
Blessings to you, Nechesa.


Nechesa's picture

Thank you Yvette

I'll never forget how scared I was the day I interviewed her. Now we are great friends. I'll try to create more stories like this one.

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