During this course, ANP 370 Culture, Health, and Illness, I have learned so much about medical anthropology. However, I believe the most prominent thing I have learned is that doctors, physicians, and all other medical professionals need to have an anthropological perspective when doing their work. When I say this I mean that they need to see their patients as human beings and not as a set of symptoms that need to be treated. This is particularly focused at professionals that use western medicine practices, but could be applied to others elsewhere around the world. By looking at the patient as a whole and seeing him or her in the context of his or her life and the world around them, useful and insightful information can be uncovered that can lead to a more accurate and successful treatment that would not otherwise be thought of if the patient was seen as just symptoms. Going along with this would be integrating different types of healing practices used around the world. Using treatments from a plethora of cultures could potentially be the most successful way to heal, treat, or soothe a patient in my personal opinion. This is because each treatment aims at relieving the same problem but in different ways. Having a multitude of processes intertwining and working together at the same time would be most beneficial to the medical professional and the patient. Because of my understanding of the importance of medical anthropology, I am going to be more aware of the treatments I am prescribed by doctors. I won’t constantly second guess them, but I will try to seek medical opinions from other perspectives as well.
In giving recommendation for a book that would be a good addition to this course, I would choose the book The Scalpel and the Silver Bear by Lori Alvord. While I have not personally read this book, I believe it would be a good addition because the subtitle says “The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing.” Just by reading the title, the similarity in themes between the course and this book can be seen. In reading the summary, I found that Dr. Alvord, author and surgeon, has a Navajo father and a white mother. Being torn between cultural identities, she ultimately ended up integrating both Native American and Western medicine practices into her work. In sum, she shares her experience of combining Navajo philosophy and beliefs with a Western medical practice. As I stated earlier, using a combination of cultural healing practices in treating a patient is ultimately the most successful and this book is a perfect example of that.
Alvord, Lori. The Scalpel and the Silver Bear. New York: Bantam Books, 1999.