Public Health/Med Anthro

I picked the intersection of Public health and Medical Anthropology because they work off each other in order to solve world problems. Outside the United States, health care and culture are practiced drastically different. It is important to use anthropology to learn about the people and the culture, and then use Public health knowledge to make significant improvements. Although one method may work for Americans, that method may not be possible in another country or against their beliefs. When I switched my major from human biology to health and society in social science, my interest and knowledge of anthropology, culture, and public health greatly increased. I had been studying everything on a biological level and did not realize the complexity of health and well-being. I want to pursue a career in nursing, but lately I have had a strong interest in getting my master of public health. I think that public health policy really can alter how health care is carried out. I feel understanding these issues would help my nursing career.

In the article Unique Opportunities: Medical Anthropologist that we were to read this week they said, “ Medical Anthropology encompasses every aspect of medicine, and it encourages an understanding of self, along with empathy for the strengths, weaknesses, rights, and needs of others, as well as the ability to relate to others with greater human understanding.” I feel this quote perfectly describes what we have learned in this class so far, and it demonstrates the importance Medical Anthropology brings to Public Health.

I took an anthropology course last semester called sociocultural diversity and we learned the importance of culture and the identification of race. We did an activity on PBS where we had to look at a picture and determine the race of the person. I personally did horrible with the activity. I got most of the questions wrong. I think having an anthropologist help and educate doctors and nurses is immensely valuable. Having the ability to recognize the race and culture of the patient will start the process of the explanatory model. We have learned about this throughout the course, but this week specifically in the article Anthropology in the Clinic. Following the steps of the explanatory model will contribute to better health care for the patient. The six steps are Ethnic Identity, What is at stake, illness narrative, psychosocial stresses, influence on clinical relationships, and the problem of cultural competency approach (Kleinman, Benson). If the health care provider can use the anthropologist these steps can be more effective. Knowing what is at stake for the patient and knowing their illness narrative will help in the diagnosis and then psychosocial stresses can be accounted for. Once the health care provider feels they know the best course of treatment an anthropologist can let them know if the care can be carried out and accepted by the person and their culture.

I think our health care providers are very focused on treating symptoms and not the cause of the disease. We do have doctors with D.O who focus more on the health of the person versus the symptoms of the disease, but I feel anthropologists would allow for better public health and individual health.



1 thought on “Public Health/Med Anthro

  1. When reading your post I couldn’t help but agree with most of what you had to say about public health and anthropology and what they can do for each other. In addition to having anthropologists help and educate doctors and nurses with issues such as identifying a person’s culture, they can influence the patient experience before they even reach a doctor’s office. An anthropologist can work together with public health officials in helping determine the demographic of a particular state or city while creating new health services or policy. They can also help to determine whether a specific policy will work based on the successes or failures of past policies and how changes can be made to better fit the area the policy is designed to affect.

    I feel as though this class will have a major impact in my future interactions with the health care system. As I have stated in previous comments and posts, I am currently working on my masters in public health and have been able to draw from material I learned in those courses to help with this course. I know that as I move I there are aspects from this course that will help me not only with future public health classes but in real life applications of the material.

Leave a Reply