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.

Reflecting on this semester

Coming into this class, my knowledge regarding the U.S healthcare system was limited. I would see articles online and hear stories on the news about Medicare, Medicaid, and rising health care costs and have superficial understanding of what this truly meant. Being a pre-med student I have been exposed to various settings in the healthcare field but have always been a one-sided observer, seeing only what was clearly presented to me. For example, during my senior year of high school, I shadowed with nearly twenty different healthcare providers, ranging from a cardiologist to an oral surgeon to a pathologist who performed autopsies. After being presented with the various facts, statistics, and personal accounts shown in class I often find myself reflecting back on those shadowing experiences with an entirely new perspective and noticing things I did not notice before. For example, while shadowing a veterinarian I remembered being asked if I would like to stay for a luncheon and presentation provided by a drug company, not knowing the Big Pharma’s manipulation of healthcare providers. Moreover, I also shadowed an ER physician in a public hospital located in a poverty stricken area. I remember seeing one child on the entire floor of the ER and reflecting back I realized that this public hospital, rather than a private hospital with a pediatric ward, was probably one of the few places in which the parents could afford to take their child and their insurance would be accepted.

There are certain statistics as well personal accounts from this class that I will not easily forget. This includes certain facts such as how much the U.S. spends on healthcare and how little we receive in return compared to other countries, the existence of overtreatment and a chargemaster, and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in medicalization and drug pricing. I also did not realize the tremendous amount of people underinsured or lacking insurance all together. Next year being the first time I can vote, this has greatly influenced my candidate choices. With that said, the portion of this course I found most interesting was the beginning of the course, involving the high costs of healthcare and the role of commercialism and consumerism in the healthcare field. This has given me an entirely new perspective on the healthcare field and at times has made me reconsider if I want to be part of this “business.” I have concluded that when I do enter this field one day, I want to avoid the profit driven mindset existing in modern healthcare.

All in all, this has been one of the most informative and eye-opening courses I have taken at BU thus far. I would highly recommend this course not only to those who are health majors but also to anyone who has limited knowledge of the healthcare field.

Process Reflection 3

Throughout the course of this semester, we covered a very broad range of topics.  I feel as though I have come out of this class more educated about healthcare in general.   I also feel as though I am more aware of the many problems that we currently face in terms of healthcare, and what potential problems could develop in the future. Before taking this class, my knowledge of healthcare in the U.S. (and the world in general) was sadly lacking, and I feel that the information I have learned is definitely important. In my personal opinion, every person around my age should be aware of the issues that we discussed in class; we are going to be able to vote in the 2016 election, and soon enough it is going to be our responsibility to face and try to solve all the issues that are developing in today’s society.

Looking back over the semester, I think the idea that stands out the most to me or that is most shocking is the disparity between how much money we spend in the U.S., but how bad our health outcomes are in comparison to countries of comparable economic status.  Studying abroad in France made me somewhat more aware of how our system here rations healthcare, but this class has truly opened my eyes to the disparities in healthcare in our own country.  The fact that the United States, a country considered to be a world superpower, does not guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens is completely stupefying to me.  What is a basic human right, if not the access to healthcare? This is just one of the upcoming problems that we face in this country, and it is going to be an especially important topic in the upcoming 2016 election.

Final Process Reflection

Before taking Sociology of Health Care, I knew very little about our health care system. This class has been very informative. The lectures, and readings gave me a chance to learn about all different aspects of health care. Ranging from the business side, to the patients needs. The discussion section allowed me to further explore my classmates and my own ideas. I really enjoyed how this class was structured. I believe the frequent assignments helped me further understand what was going on in class. I always enjoyed the fact that the assignments were not just busy work, they correlated directly to what we were doing in class.

The most surprising thing I learned in this class was about the charge master. I am still baffled that our health care system allows for such arbitrary prices. Learning about this has motivated me to try to make a change once I have a career in health care. This class has made me view health care in a different way. Which ultimately has provided me with an understanding of what type of doctor I would want to be. I have learned that it is easy for doctors to put business priorities over their patients wants and needs. After taking this class I will make sure to never become a doctor who does that.

I have fully enjoyed every aspect of this class. The environment in which Professor Guseva and Rebecca teach is a very welcoming one. This made it much easier to discuss some of the controversial topics we did this semester. This class is very beneficial for anyone who is interested in health care, pre-med, or even politics. I believe that this class, the professor, and the TF are shaping undergrad pre-med students into become much better doctors then they once would have been.

Process reflection 3

For my last Process reflection I’d like to say that as a whole the class has been very informative and interesting. The discussions have also gotten more involved in the last few weeks of the course which I thought made more information stick and generally made the course more interesting. I specifically liked the inclusion of the debate in the final Discussion, it forces us to take a more involved look into the many viewpoints on what we are being taught and cements that there are many possible solutions that all deserve to be heard. I think the class can be improved by making those debates more frequent in the coming semesters.

One issue that I’ve had with the course from the start and believe is still as much of an issue as ever however is this blog. It seems very disjointed from the rest of the class and although it is used by the discussion leader in class to bring up the points of individual students for examples, it just seems like an unnecessary addition that feels like busywork. The Analytical postings were interesting but never revisited after they were done for the most part. These process reflections would also be more useful to the instructors if done as a final assignment at the end of the semester rather than multiple peppered throughout, as one month is not very much time to take into account the opinions of more than one hundred kids and adjust the syllabus accordingly. Beyond that the blog is an unnecessarily complicated site to learn the use of for a single class and then most likely never use again

In all I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this class and it’s lectures  and would definitely recommend it to others on the pre-med track. I just hope that it stops over relying on the blog format and busywork that comes with that.

Final Process Reflection

As a research assistant for a Children’s research group at Boston Medical Center I am constantly surrounded by the health care culture. Through my workplace I learn about health care policy, emergency medicine, and interact with physicians, nurses, social workers, etc. As a psychology major and a sociology minor I learn about social determinants and then see them first hand with the families I interview. However, it was not until I took Sociology of Health Care that I realized that I was lacking a basic knowledge of our health care system as well as its history and its provisions throughout the years.

New bills, policies, and methods of intervention are constantly being changed and created. Although it is difficult to keep track of, having a basic understanding should be necessary for any young adult living in the United States. From our coursework, what truly led to my understanding of our country’s health care system was learning about other countries health care institutions. I was unaware of the rise in medical tourism that has been occurring in recent years and the reasons for why this may be occurring. Understanding other systems shed some light on the systemic problems of our own health care system. Additionally, it emphasizes the commercialism/patient consumer role that is growing as a result. Taking this class gave me overall a better understanding and vocabulary to use in order to successfully move forward in the health field (if this is what I choose to do). Personally, I think it should be a requirement at any college to have to take a sociology of health care class. I believe that if more people understood the underlying structure of our health care system, we will then have more voices advocating for better quality of health, lower costs, and equal access. 

Priming for the Future

Looking back on this semester, I realize I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would. I came to this class knowing that the healthcare system was considerably flawed, but this class opened my eyes to the extent at which our healthcare system is flawed. Some politicians (more recently some presidential nominees) talk about fixing this country’s healthcare as if it could be accomplished overnight and suddenly everyone who should be covered, would be covered. However, the healthcare system is so much more intricate than that as its problems stem from a wide variety of sources, starting from the very birth of healthcare. Where most people think that its problems stem from doctors charging a lot for their services or insurance companies being unwilling to cover certain medical treatments or procedures, these people fail to see that it is also the fault of pharmaceutical companies, the way it is so difficult for people to attain a higher socioeconomic class, and so much more that influences the amount and level of care that is accessible and also importantly, affordable to everyone in this country.

It’s hard pill to swallow when one sees exactly how many people are without adequate healthcare or medical insurance in this country, more often than not through no fault of their own. We even went through stories in class of people who worked their entire lives, bought a house, and have retired, only to be pulled out of retirement and lose everything they had because of a medical issue that they have to pay out of pocket for. It’s an even harder pill to swallow when we see how people from other countries thrive under their country’s version of healthcare, other countries having universal healthcare. Politicians in the United States argue that our government cannot afford to provide universal healthcare for everyone in the country. How then, are other countries able to afford universal healthcare for their citizens? In addition, how then does US government have enough money to spend trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East? Though many of these questions will take more research and taking related classes to answer, SO215 has primed me to begin questioning these aspects of healthcare not just through the length of the course, but for the rest of my life as an active and voting citizen of this country.

A plan to create change in the healthcare world

Before taking this class, I will admit that I had a very narrowed view of the healthcare industry, and was not familiar with all the intricate components that make up the healthcare sector. The beauty of becoming a doctor is all too glamorized, and many fail to realize that the healthcare industry is not solely about the doctor and their practice. Medicare, Medicaid, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare laws, the doctor-patient relationship, elderly care, overtreatment, overdiagnosis – these are just a few of the many things that this sociology class has introduced me too. As a future healthcare provider, I now realize the importance in understanding these individual components and how they shape the way patients receive care.

The most fulfilling thing this class has instilled in me is a desire to change all the negative aspects of healthcare. One of the major parts that we focused on in class is the lack of care millions of Americans receive, despite Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. I was baffled by the staggering numbers of Americans that find themselves unable to provide medically for themselves, and find themselves resorting to alternative methods, foreign country care, or simply avoiding medical care altogether. As I’ve discussed before in a previous reflection post, I believe the most impactful way to change the course of our current healthcare is to become educated, and vote. This upcoming presidential election is inching closer and closer, and educating myself of each party’s platform and ideals in the best way to see change in the healthcare world.

Although I initially took this class as a fulfillment for my Public Health Minor, the wealth of knowledge I have acquired will better me as a healthcare consumer, and a future healthcare provider. Even after finishing this class, I plan to keep educating myself on the persisting changes in the healthcare world.

Final Thoughts of the Course

As we finish off this course, I realized I have developed a new perspective and outlook on the entire medical system of the U.S.. Having grown up in another country for most of my life, I have always known my own country’s medical system (Taiwan) and thought everything should be like that as it would make things much easier. I also thought in a more than naive way that the U.S. would have a similar system. This course helped me shine a light on what is wrong with the entire medical system of the U.S., but also gave me hope for what little hope there is left. It allowed some thoughts of reform and of change, which provided a rather bleak life with a sort of hopeful outlook. Even as we ended the class talking about end of life care, we managed to squeeze in some happy notes by explaining what we could be doing instead of what we are doing now. In that sense, I don’t see this class as teaching new material as a typical class does, but rather provoking conversations and viewing the world from an outsider view. Instead of teaching the basics, we learned to question the society we live in and what can we do as individuals to improve it. After all, we are going to be future doctors which will have a major impact on the medical field. If we can bring what we learned in this class to our future careers, maybe we really can bring change to the medical field and possibly reform it completely.

In terms of actual teaching, I think Dr. Guseva did a great job explaining many of the past concepts in lecture. She brought her own point of view as well as explained the current trends, and allowed us to think about what we should do to contribute, such as conversations about death. I think discussions were helpful as well, but I would’ve preferred if they went a little faster or more in depth into the lectures that we went over in class. We usually went over the readings which were helpful, but were something we really could’ve done in our own time.

To bring it all into context with what we have been learning about for the past few weeks, I think we really should bring all of what we learned into context to be change, however slight, in the world and change perspectives of how we view healthcare, illnesses, and death. What is rather stigmatizing to think about should not be so, and should be more talked about as the more we stigmatize them, the less we treat people with these certain conditions. This course really has brought a lot of new thoughts to my mind about healthcare and I’m glad I took this course to discuss these thoughts!