Clinical Medical Anthropology

I chose Clinical Medical Anthropology as my area of intersection for anthropology because I plan on working in the clinical setting in the future.  As a pediatrician, which I am working towards becoming, I will be in the clinical setting everyday working with patients and my colleagues.  It is critical to have an understanding of anthropology when working in such a setting because you need to understand the cultural differences in treatment for each culture.  You will run into many different problems as a physician, and the biggest problem is working around these cultural differences.  Once these differences are understood it makes for a much smoother and easier visit.  Some things that cause this are different cultures do not accept certain treatments.  You need to know what is acceptable in what culture and medical anthropology can help with that.  One example of clinics trying to help with this problem is at theMercyMedicalCenterinMercedCalifornia.  During week three in our lectures we talked about what this hospital did to lessen the problem of cultural boundaries.  This hospital took on a new policy which allowed traditional healers, or shamans, to work in the building and make regular rounds just like the doctors.  These shamans would go into the rooms and perform rituals on patients that did not allow traditional medicine because it was not part of their culture.  On top of having unrestricted access to the hospitals like the doctors, they also made house calls, which is something that doctors can not always do because they are so busy.  These shamans were not only there to help heal the patients with cultural boundaries, but are also a base of security for other patients.  The hospital can be a scary place, but the shaman can help patients feel more secure by performing a ritual.  This policy inCaliforniashowed that if you incorporate a cultural understanding in the medical workplace it can have a positive affect on patients.


1 thought on “Clinical Medical Anthropology

  1. I agree that clinical medical anthropology would work very well in relation to being a pediatrician. Being able to understand a persons culture for them to not only be treated biologically but spiritually/mentally as well can is most beneficial for the patient and doctor. One aspect that I believe would be amplified is knowing how their culture interprets the source of their illness whether it be spiritual, a curse, or as what we would call a disease. When taking this into account it may help with determining how much you as a physician should intervene or their cultural traditions.
    I believe that in taking this class it has helped me to view health in a larger arena. Health is no longer just biological it is the world that surrounds that person and how it affects their daily lives. It erases the mentality that someone is automatically crazy for handling some illnesses/diseases in a particular way, instead it sheds light to other possibilities to treatment and various ways the illness is perceived. When I interact with a healthcare provider in the future, this class would have helped me to discover why as a western culture we only cover certain treatments and even bring about a discussion as to other treatment options that could benefit me in the long run. I can better describe my own personal feelings to the physician and discuss why some treatments may not be a good fit for me because of my culture or everyday surroundings. This class has generally helped me to find a way to bring clarity to healthcare/healthcare providers and the patient.

Leave a Reply