Clinical Settings and Medical Anthropology

Integrating medical anthropology into clinical medical work is very interesting to me, as I am pursuing an anthropology and nursing degree. I hope to combine these fields that, while different in many ways, overlap in the desire to work and help people. I hope I can utilize my clinical knowledge with anthropological methods in hospitals to most effectively treat those who come from a different culture and may be unfamiliar with Western medicine. I also hope to work with NGO’s to aid developing nations in bring healthcare to those that it is often unreachable. Being in a country completely different than you’re familiar with requires understanding the extent at which culture affects one’s perceptions of health, disease, and every aspect of medicine. I hope that with my varied studies I can contextualize treatment for my patients within their culture and most effectively help them.

Working in America, especially, where immigrants come from all over the world in seek of refuge, cultural awareness is crucial for being the best clinician possible. Many people assume others trust and understand Western medicine, but this is not the case. Many treatment plans go unfollowed and are ineffective because the patients are non-compliant. This is not because they don’t care, but because they do not understand Western medicine and prior experiences with it may have created distrust to our foreign methods. The assigned journal article, “Anthropology in the Clinic: The ProblemĀ of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It,” argues that understanding that a person’s culture affects how they should be treated is not a, “technical skill,” but an understanding that should be embraced in all forms of treatment. Communicating with the patient and understanding what they want out of their treatment is crucial, rather than assuming a certain tactic must be used for a certain ethnicity. This article effectively displays the importance of anthropology in Western medicine and it’s important role as a critique on imperfect system.

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