A Better Understanding, Westernized Medicine

I took this course because it was required for my major concentration, Health and Society. I originally took this class in the spring with another professor but things did not work out because it was hard for me to understand. So when I enrolled in this class for the summer I was a little nervous. I must say that I am happy that I took this class in the summer because I was able to focus solely on this course. I have gained much knowledge and understanding because of this medical anthropology course. I now am better at respecting other culture differences when it comes to medical treatment. I now understand that Westernized medicine is not the only answer for healing. As a future Health Care Administrator I am happy to have taken this course to learn that I am not aware of everything and that there is always more to learn in the medical field, rather it be history, cultural difference, or new methods.

I enjoyed all of our lectures but the one that stood out the most was the lecture on refugees and the Hmong culture. After completing the exercise from our video lecture I was very intrigued to know more. Reading upon the Hmong culture expanded my mind to appreciating every culture for what they have done for America. Before this course I was not aware of the Hmong culture and that they were a huge contributor in the Vietnam War. Learning about the Hmong culture has also taught me to be open when talking about care for illness and disease. Furthermore I was very fascinated in learning about the Inuit culture and their birthing practices. It was surprising and rewarding to learn that America has some of the best birthing practices in comparison to other countries. More than 90% of Inuit women are being evacuated to the North to bear children because most communities across Canada do not have their own birthing centers (Gabriel, 2016 I also appreciated how this course addressed the relevance of race and health care because I had never took a deeper look into health care treatment in relation to socioeconomic status and racial background. “Our genes and ethnicity effects our health because our lived experiences as someone in a dominant group or in a group that experiences discrimination, or in a group that experiences unequal access to resources absolutely impacts our health” (Gabriel 2016).

I know that I will take with me in my future endeavors as a Health Care Administrator the openness to all culture practices for medicine and treatments. I will try to help doctors, nurses, and other care providers to be empathetic and respectful to all cultures. If I could add to this course I would add the documentary “Sicko,” which compares the American health care to other countries. This will help the students to understand the pros and cons of the healthcare system in the United States and other countries. I think this will be a good introduction to the course and then follow with the rest of the material. I stress this to be shown in the beginning because many students like myself will fell they know all that there is to know about Westernized Medicine.


Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine. Directed by Cynthia Gabriel. 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/understanding-race-and-ethnicity-in-medicine/.

Sicko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dOgfObb3O4

One thought on “A Better Understanding, Westernized Medicine

  1. As a future health care administrator, I believe you will benefit greatly from this course. You will be on the front lines dealing with many physicians and patients. That being said, what’s interesting in the cases you brought up is that we have very different cultures that all undergo the same paradigm or woes when they have to deal with western biomedical medicine. The Hmong or the Inuit’s and even the western Africans countries that suffered from Ebola all showed the same trends. Once Western Biomedical doctors intervened, there was an inevitable disconnect from these western doctors and their patients. This disconnect was all from the same issue. Western biomedical doctors had no regards for the cultural landscape of the societies they were treating. Western physicians had a different outlook on death, disease, and birth. Furthermore, they did not make any attempt to reconcile what they believed with what the patients believed, and this is the point I wish to tack on to the observation on these particular cases, it almost seems like western biomedical doctors are practicing a sort of subtle colonization. This is especially apparent when we look at cases such as the Inuit where we have the Canadian government forcing medicalization on Inuit populations. This them must be addressed in order to improve patient care in global and domestic health.

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