Clinical Medical Anthropology

I chose to analyze clinical medical anthropology. I picked this intersection because I believe it heavily relates to my future occupation in becoming a doctor. In the lecture Taz mentioned that clinical work emphasizes cultural contrast. I believe this would be beneficial because it would be important to have a clinical medical anthropologist to affect how cultural beliefs or histories effect treatment on certain patients. Clinical medical anthropology will help in my future career by helping me to understand other cultures that i will be working with. If i am in a different country i will need someone who knows the culture to teach me how to approach these individuals. As a doctor i will only be focusing on the individual, i will need a medical anthropologist to help me look at the individual as a population. For example in Dr. Farmer’s Remedy video he is a world renouned doctor who i could classify also as a clinical medical anthropologist. He knows the culture he is treating. He has been with them for years and speaks the language. He knows how to approach them, talk with them, and treat them. He is the type of doctor everyone should aspire to become.

When working for a doctor or someone in the area of healthcare who is not an anthropologist it is important to remind the healthcare professional about their patient and their background. That their patient is not just another body they get to examine, diagnose, and treat, but as an individual with a history or a culture that they go by. Also, it is important to understand how the illness evolved. Doctors or medical professionals do not take the time or are interested in these types of details but for treating purposes it is important to understand how and why this person contracted what they contracted.

Karim, Taz. “Lecture 6.1 Applied Medical Anthropology.” ANP 204 Course Website. East Lansing, MI, August 8, 2014.

“Dr. Farmer’s Remedy,” CBS video, 12:29, posted by CBS News, May 5, 2008,

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Adam Feuerstein says:

    Lindsey, I think you did a great job at analyzing some of the things an anthropologist can do in the clinical setting. Culture is a very important thing to take into account when diagnosing a patient as well as part of the treatment process. One thing I believe culture can really have an impact on is the compliance factor. In different cultures medications can seem as gender specific, a lesser person, or just nervousness of side effects. These are things that I believe a doctor should address but do not always think about due to their personal background. A medical anthropologist on the other hand would take these into account and best be able to treat the patient. This is shown in your example from the video “Dr. Farmers Remedy”. One thing I think you could also elaborate on is culture is not just the place in which you live. You mentioned living in a different country and learning different languages but did not mention political choice or economic status. When you become a doctor you will likely have to deal with people of different economic status and they may require different attention. For example, changing medication to give a cheaper generic brand of a medication may increase the patient’s wiliness to follow you plan for better health. In conclusion, there are many aspects of what makes a persons culture but the fact that you will look more into culture as a doctor will help you greatly at providing adequate care for patients.

  2. James Conwell says:

    I think that your discussion on clinical medical anthropology touches on some important points. I think that it is important to look at population health and environmental factors when treating patients, but I don’t agree that an individual patient should necessarily be viewed as a population. I think that one of the great things about medical anthropology is to understand that certain populations do have certain genetics, and cultural norms, beliefs, behaviors, and medical issues. However, I don’t believe that a good practice of medicine is to treat patients as individuals, and to understand their complete situation. I think that incorporating personalized medicine with cultural understanding would better the applied intersection of clinical medical anthropology. For example, an individual may not have insurance, even though they live in a country where it is mandated to have health insurance. As a result, a clinician must have the skills and understanding to be able to interpret how to best treat and heal that patient. I think your discussion on understanding that patients are people with a culture and background is important as well. In order to understand how diseases are spread, and why certain populations can be predispositioned to a particular illness, say HIV, is an important intersection between cultural, behavioral and genetic understanding, as well as clinical medicine. In other words, understanding why an illness is happening, and how it can best be treated is one of the most effective roles that clinical medical anthropology can play.

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