Clinical Anthropology

I picked the topic of clinical anthropology because this is the type of anthropology I encounter every day.  When I graduate and get sent off into the real world I want to be a doctor.  I want to practice in a clinic and I want to learn all possible kinds of treatments for my patients.  It is important for me to see and understand the affect that culture has on the positive healing of my patients.  A person living in West Bloomfield, Michigan may treat a broken leg with surgery, laser treatments that aren’t covered by insurance, and physical therapy.  However, my grandparents are from a small village in pre-WWII Poland.  My grandfather did not have much money and when he broke his arm he was sent to a “bone setter for humans and animals alike”.  These clinical treatments are on two different sides of a spectrum but I bet if you asked my grandfather how his broken wrist healed he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that its in great shape.  I think that this area of study is why anthropologists could be considered essential for many practices.

In our reading for this week Kleinman and Benson speak about the importance of the role of culture in diagnosis.  Unfortunately, since this type of study is not backed by much evidence doctors and clinicians sometimes choose to ignore the importance of culture in their practices.  Cultural practices are expensive to maintain because of the amount of training and time the physicians must put in to accomplish this task effectively.  This may also be another reason why it may not be as wide-spread as it should be.  They also mention how “culture is often made synonymous with ethnicity, nationality, and language”. This is not always the case.  Just because a patient is Chinese, it doesn’t mean that they are going to think and act like the stereotype that surrounds them.  Every person sees culture in a different way and the only way to affectively practice culture-based clinical medicine is to treat every person as an individual.

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