W6 Reflection: Public Health

The area of applied medical anthropology that I chose to investigate this week is public health. This intersection stood out to me the most because this is an aspect of medical anthropology that interests me as a possible career path. I think we have all, at some point in our lives dealt with someone in this field. According to MedicineNet, public health can be defined as the approach to medicine that is concerned with the health of the community as a whole. Public health is community health. It has been said that: “Health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time.” This interests me because I am concerned with the health of the fellow people that are involved in my life. The public health field of anthropology may look at health issues in a public viewpoint, such as a certain disease in a certain area in the world. I am aspiring to go to med-school and knowing and understanding the aspects of public health are very important to know medicine as a whole. I have also gained interest in the Public Health program that is offered as a graduate degree here at MSU.

If I were to be working for a provider in the area of healthcare that was not an anthropologist, I believe that we could all coincide with ideas that would better the field of healthcare. To provide an example, the article by Kleinman and Benson titled Anthropology and The Clinic really explains in detail the importance of a medical anthropologist in a clinical setting. Generally, physicians view the healthcare process in a medical standpoint, as they should. A medical anthropologist at a physician’s side could help the physician understand the cultural aspects of medicine, which essentially could better help the patient recover with the collaboration of minds. Cultural differences can greatly effect the treatment of people around the world. I would help the physician understand that there are many different aspects and sub-categories to culture, which would essentially help him/her treat the patient from this standpoint. With all of this being said, I think it is absolutely vital for a medical anthropologist to work hand in hand with a doctor in order for the doctor to be able to understand these variables, especially in the field of public help, which would be a community as a whole.

References:
Keleinman, Arthur, and Peter Benson. “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It.” PLoS Medicine. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us15/files/2012/06/6.-Kleinman-and-Benson-Anthropology-in-the-clinic.pdf.

MedicineNet. “Definition of Public Health.” http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5120

2 thoughts on “W6 Reflection: Public Health

  1. Hi Ty,

    I too am very interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Public Health for similar purposes to you. I wasn’t aware of Michigan State’s Public Health School so thank you for pointing me in that direction! I think people traditionally think of health mostly as a personal experience but as Public Health points to, health transcends communities and can affect different people. I personally hope to push for the public good through promoting healthier lifestyle choices. The intersection that anthropology introduces to Public Health really complements the biomedical work that Public Health incorporates because as you pointed out, anthropologists consider different perspectives when analyzing health problems in the community. Cultural understandings dealing with different populations is a big part that anthropology can assist Public Health on because of the diversity of humanity. This helps through being able to connect with different people in an effort to help their medical conditions. Another one you may want to consider is the ecological approach that anthropologists come to study which deals with how the environment may affect health outcomes. For example, industrial cities may create health disparities compared to those living on the countryside or in the suburbs. I think having at least a basic understanding of how different social and environmental structures is an important basis for someone interested in pursuing Public Health.

  2. Hi Ty,

    I too am very interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Public Health for similar purposes to you. I wasn’t aware of Michigan State’s Public Health School so thank you for pointing me in that direction! I think people traditionally think of health mostly as a personal experience but as Public Health points to, health transcends communities and can affect different people. I personally hope to push for the public good through promoting healthier lifestyle choices. The intersection that anthropology introduces to Public Health really complements the biomedical work that Public Health incorporates because as you pointed out, anthropologists consider different perspectives when analyzing health problems in the community. Cultural understandings dealing with different populations is a big part that anthropology can assist Public Health on because of the diversity of humanity. This helps through being able to connect with different people in an effort to help their medical conditions. Another one you may want to consider is the ecological approach that anthropologists come to study which deals with how the environment may affect health outcomes. For example, industrial cities may create health disparities compared to those living on the countryside or in the suburbs. I think having at least a basic understanding of how different social and environmental structures is an important basis for someone interested in pursuing Public Health.

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