Final Reflections

At the begging of the semester, this was the class I was most looking forward too. As a future healthcare provider, I feel that it is important to understand the system in which providers work in. While doctors are often thought to reside at the top of the medical hierarchy there are so many individuals and factors behind the scenes that contribute to an effective medical practice. Coming into this class I had a basic understanding of the healthcare system and had read enough articles to know that the although the U.S system was one of the more prominent in the world, there still a few rough patches.

 

Overall, I left this class with an almost melancholy feeling. While I was appreciative of a greater understanding of the U.S healthcare system I could not help but think how bleak the situation had become at times. It’s hard to sugarcoat the fact that Americans are living in a fragmented consumer driven healthcare system. I hope that some day I will be able to utilize the knowledge I have learned in this class to help alleviate alleviate the power as well as profit imbalances in healthcare and overall foster a attitude of altruism.

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Informed Health Care Consumer

As the semester is ending and I begin to reflect on this course and what I have learned I realize that a lot of Americans will go their whole lives without knowing the basics of our healthcare system. It is hard to believe that that is where I was at at the beginning of the semester. Since then I have learned and immense amount of information that I believe will forever be valuable.

Our health care system is a complex one and very different one when considered internationally. It is also in danger of collapsing our economy if regulations on spending are not put in place soon. The reason health care is so expensive is because it is treated like another commodity in the US rather than a basic human right.Now this may be because health care rose alongside the medical profession. However, there is nothing that can be done to change the past we can only learn from this mistake so that we are able to improve. No country in the world has perfected their health care  system. In Japan the cost of health care is too low and Switzerland it is too high (although not as high as it is in the US). Regardless improvement to our system is necessary.

This is only one of the issues with health care in the United States there are others like medicalization, long term care, and medical training. All of which deserve attention for the American public.  Having taken this course I am now a more informed consumer of health care but I know there is still so much to learn.

Process reflection

This course has really informed me a lot in terms of the way how policies are carried in our capitalist economic system, not only in the States but also in other countries as we do comparative studies. Before I came to this course, I only knew as much as the social construction of illnesses and how social institutions like the pharmaceutical companies have a huge influence in the diseases and drugs that become marketed. After this course, I learnt a lot more things and question a lot more things that I used to take for granted; such as the options we may have for our end of life care, and alternative care providers such as hospices and nursing homes. If anything, this course has made me more reflexive as a potential patient of our complex healthcare system.

Process reflection 3

What interests me most throughout the course is how actors such as big pharma, insurance companies, medical providers, policy makers and consumer groups influence the medical landscapes today on a macro level. Unlike most of the premed students in the classroom who resonate with the medical professionals more often, as a business major student I think more about the regulatory environment and sustainable growth for the companies (outside the limitation that defining ourselves by our majors, I surely learned a lot from my classmates and adjusted my opinions along the course). Not surprisingly, the mainstream sentiment in the teaching materials is the anger towards almost all the for-profit entities. But since further commercialization is inevitable in our social development, we need to shift from being angry to collaborating with the businesses with new corporate social responsibilities to create a better healthcare system. Furthermore, policymakers have huge power to allocate the interests among different groups thus shifting the whole landscape. For example, the coverage change in Medicare can transform the model of nursing homes, create a new industry such as Hospice, or significantly impact the life of certain population such as people diagnosed with cancer. Those topics are probably outside the scope of this course, but they could be very good extensions and leave questions for further research. Besides, I have only been in this country for about four months, so all the assumed knowledge towards US healthcare system is very new to me! Therefore, this course has been very eye-opening and rewarding.

Process Reflection: End of Semester

As the semester comes to a close, I feel lucky to have taken this class for a number of reasons. I enrolled in the class as an undeclared sophomore, attempting to decide between a sociology and international relations major. I knew that I wanted to work with people in some practical capacity, and that I was interested in the effect that big systems like healthcare systems had on human life at the most personal and individual level. While I will not be pursuing a public health major or minor at least in undergrad, the knowledge I have gained in this class is something so fundamentally relevant to my own life and the lives of those in the community that I am quite grateful to have taken the course.

I believe everyone would benefit from a basic knowledge of the materials learned in this class – no matter their profession or stage in life. Americans particularly live in a healthcare system that is very flawed, and often ends up taking a financial, physical and psychological toll on the people who need it the most. Other countries work as examples for systems functioning more efficiently or more poorly than ours, and educating ourselves about these differences is the first step to positive change. I am especially glad that I took this course at a time when the world is beginning to have more of these conversations – vast changes may be made to these existing systems in just the next few years.

In this class I learned a myriad of things I did not know before – from the consumer-centric and often arbitrarily priced mess of health care services, to conversations around death and dying and the shocking discrepancy between the care Americans want and the care they receive. I am grateful for all of it, and will absolutely consider taking more classes about health care in the future.

Final process reflection

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “Of all the injustices in the world, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Equitable civil rights not only exist at the forefront of medical practice, but just living as a whole. Sociology of Health Care lectures throughout the semester have made it clear that care quality is highly variable between the sexes, races, and financial sectors of society. While I aim to touch the lives of each patient I have the opportunity to treat, I would like to also influence the medical community as a whole in a lasting manner. As such, I would like to begin further study in the field of health policy while I continue my education in medical school. Personally, the most influential lectures were those that spoke of fundamental causes of disease and the social factors affecting health, namely SES, race, and gender. Too often health policy is instated by those who lack understanding in the biological/social factors that affect illness. As I am already well equipped in this regard due to past enrollment in numerous basic science courses, I must gain fluency in the nuances of social justice regarding healthcare. SO 215 has started me on the path towards it.

Semester Reflection

As the semester comes to a close, I’ve realized just how aware I’ve become of the issues in the U.S. healthcare system. I remember coming to the first lecture not having any concept of the Affordable Care Act, but can now discuss it in a constructive and analytical manner with my peers. I didn’t know that our healthcare system was so multi-faceted and had so many contributing parties, especially in terms of deciding the cost of care. As a student interested in becoming part of the healthcare system as a physician, I was reminded of the importance of empathy and emotion in the medical field. The moving films we watched in lecture really opened my eyes to how important a stable healthcare system is and has inspired me to take initiative in actively reshaping our overpriced and inefficient system. “The Importance of Touch” really helped me understand that healthcare is more than just providing a solution to a disease, but nurturing and developing connections with others. A lot of the semester was spent hopelessly reading articles about the horrible consequences of a dysfunctional system, but the last lectures on hospice care have reassured me that with passion and initiative, we can find a way to organize and establish healthcare as a basic human right. I am curious as to what we can do right now as students and future leaders of the healthcare system. I cannot wait to see the progress we make as a generation on the medical field!

Moving Forward

As the semester nears its end I am realizing how this course came full circle. It all comes back to the fact that American health care is inherently bad. This happens in many cases where criticism overpowers progress being made. This course has brought to light every negative aspect and stage of our healthcare system. This started from the misguidedness of early homeopaths to the profit-hungry insurers and the limitations of government assistance in Medicare and Medicaid. This is compounded by all of the tables and figures showing how awful our system is from costs, medicalization and rankings compared to other countries. In many ways, I’ve found that this system is truly broken. For example we are one of only two countries, along with New Zealand, that still allows direct to consumer advertising for pharmaceuticals. Also in a general view the fact that not everyone has a basic coverage of healthcare is clearly a problem. With that being said, if there is one thing that makes this country great it is choice. While it may not even be an idea for some, people in the US have the choice to seek out alternative therapies or plastic surgeries. They also had the option to be covered in a very limited way if they think they will be healthy, or extensively if they can afford it. There is of course a fine line between what is right for this country and what keeps our freedoms available. The discussion of how to walk this line is always a great point of discussion and must remain in discussion for years to come. It is what made this course so interesting and relevant in today’s society. The reminders of how bad our health care system has been are important but we must use this information now to move forward and make it better.

What Now?

I really enjoyed being in SO215 this semester. I can definitely say that I have learned so many things about our health care system that I was completely unaware of before. I think it was really important for me to take this course because my goal is to one day become a doctor. I believe it’s important to know the origins of the modern health care system and what the current state of affairs is in order for future doctors to be able to bring about effective change. This course has opened my eyes to the imperfections of our health care system but has also shown me that there is hope. There are activists and nations out there who have already begun the next step in our health care system’s evolution and I hope that by the time I enter the medical field, I will be able to do so with pride. I think one of the things I learned about our health care system is that, with the right conditions, reform is possible. I have to say that my least favorite part about this class was learning about the negative aspects of our health care system, simply because I was so unaware of many of these facts before (for example, the existence of the chargemaster). Perhaps one day I will have the chance to be a part of the change that minimizes/eradicates the profit-seeking, corrupt, and unjust aspects of our health care system, and takes it back to its initial beneficent and altruistic roots.