Public Health

I chose to look into public health because it most closely relates to my future career. I wish to purse a career in medicine so public health is the main priority in my mind. Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” As a doctor, looking at public health from an anthropological viewpoint would be extremely advantageous and would be very beneficial for both the patients and myself. Understanding people and their backgrounds makes dealing with an illness much easier and efficient. As a doctor, you have to provide care, but it is important to view illness in the same way the patient does. Using an anthropological approach to public health is important because you cannot just impose a method of treatment if the general population of the area does not accept it. There are many cultural practices that influence healthcare and each culture has different practices. In America, our diet and exercise routine is currently being criticized and it is important for healthcare professionals to educate children and adults, alike, about what is detrimental to their health. An important example of this relationship is conveyed in the Tribal Jazzman video that was posted this week. The creator of the video talks about how helping underprivileged countries/areas can be counterproductive because we do not understand the needs and wants of an area (based on their cultural beliefs). He provided a shower to a family and he thought that they needed it because they expressed a want from it. He found that when he came back they used the shower for parts because they needed it. It was an important example of difference in cultural beliefs, because they did something that is considered counterintuitive to most people in American culture. I feel that, as a doctor, using an anthropological approach is pertinent for understanding how cultural factors impact a patient’s illness and using it can help a treatment.

YouTube. “”Medical Anthropology” -Tribal Jazzman Scholar, Episode #26.” YouTube. (accessed August 6, 2014).

Winslow, C.-E. A.. “The Untilled Fields Of Public Health.” Science 51, no. 1306 (1920): 23-33.



This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Paige Smith says:

    Like you, I also chose the public health approach because I feel that the best way to treat people is through preventative practices if possible; teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle while also providing the necessary care to those who need it are very important qualities that a doctor should have. Understanding disease and illness from an anthropological point of view will help us as doctors to find a way of treating and preventing disease that will not conflict with a person’s cultural values. In America, there are so many people from different backgrounds and cultures that not all methods for treating a certain disease will be agreeable to them. For instance, if a person chooses not to get vaccinated for a certain disease because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, it is up to doctors and researchers to find a way to protect that individual and those who they could possibly infect from the disease. I also agree with what you said about viewing an illness the way a patient does. A doctor must be able to do this because the experience of a patient is just as important as the diagnosis and understanding that narrative can be very beneficial in treating their condition. The anthropological approach to medicine can greatly improve the healthcare system in America by acknowledging the different cultures and beliefs and working with them to better treat and even cure ailing individuals.

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