This intersection relates to my life because I am pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant. Clinical medical anthropology applies to my personal interests because in my future work field it is crucial to approach each patient as a different, unique individual and take into consideration many factors that impact and shape each and everyone’s lives and overall health. Being familiar and programmed to have a clinical medical anthropology mindset benefits each factor involved in the healthcare setting: me as a PA, the individual dealing with health issue as a patient, and the system as a whole. It gives me a well-rounded sense of approach by looking at my patients’ environments, culture and beliefs when providing treatments to them.
As suggested in this week’s videos and lectures, what one assumes would be best for their patients, as a physician or healthcare provider, may not be really what they need and one has to step back and get in tune with the community and culture that the patients are immersed in. For example, Tribal Jazzman Scholar was explaining how a woman who raised money for a community in Peru in order to help with E. Coli issues due to water contamination went around to the females of the area to teach the importance of boiling their water before using it for meal purposes. Everything seemed great as she went around and the ladies were nodding and responsive to the lecture about boiling, however around 8 months later came around for a follow up, none of the women were boiling the water. So, she began to do interviews asking the reason behind not boiling water, and they said “well, you can’t boil water; water has the spirit of the Earth in it and it’s one of the critical, powerful spirits we bring into our bodies and when you boil it you destroy the spirit. So we must drink the water as it comes out of the earth, you know that right?” So this case was an example of her efforts failing completely because she didn’t take into consideration the culture and beliefs of that community, so E. Coli prevention could not be done effectively through her approach. Another effort in Ecuador was targeted for the women and implanting IUDs to help with family planning and the high birth rate. This also backfired because when the women were menstruating, they couldn’t handle food due to their belief system – so with the increase of length and severity of menstruation with the IUDs, it actually negatively impacted the village since they could not feed and care for their children and families for a longer period of time. These are great examples of how understanding cultures is so important when strategizing efforts to medically help different people across the world.