Clinical Medical Anthropology

The area of applied medical anthropology that I chose to investigate further is the field of clinical medical anthropology. I chose this field due to the fact that I would one day like to be a physician’s assistant and in order to do the best job that I can, I need to understand the anthropological aspects of this career. With this understanding, I will be able to better understand my patients on more of an emotional level by familiarizing myself with their cultural history and also learning how to understand their cultural beliefs as they pertain to medical help. About a year ago I got a hands on experience with multiple patients of differing beliefs than my own. I was working at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and we commonly got patients that were not comfortable with certain aspects of our medical treatment process. More often than not, they requested female staff since their cultural beliefs did not permit having male staff help in the treatment of a female patient. Being unaware of how often situations like this took place in a hospital setting, it made me realize how much smoother of a process it would be if I was able to understand these cultural beliefs more in depth so I could better educate my staff and cater to the wishes of all of my patients more effectively.

Taking an anthropological viewpoint is a very important in any career in the medical field. If I wind up working for a provider that is not an anthropologist, I will make sure to use my knowledge of anthropology to not only assist in the treatment of our patients, but to also help educate any coworkers that are not as familiar with this viewpoint. In the journal article, “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It,” Kleinman and Benson discuss how 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. All clinicians should be required to have some sort of anthropological background before becoming a full-time medical professional in order to ensure that they are able to properly take care of patients and their culturally different needs.

Kleinman, Arthur, and Peter Benson. “Anthropology In The Clinic: The Problem Of Cultural Competency And How To Fix It.” PLoS Medicine 3, no. 10 (2006): E294. Accessed August 7, 2014.

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