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.
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.
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.
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.
We live in a society where death and dying is better off unmentioned. We understand that everyone lives and imminently, dies but we don’t seem to understand the lurking process of dying. At the start of the semester, I had in my head that my ideal death would be in sleep or while singing at church. I never gave much thought about the present condition of my body before then or the extent that my deteriorating condition would have on my family or even the bills that would need to be paid to sustain me. I never really considered dying as a process that should be planned or even discussed with my family. I just assumed it wasn’t an option. However, I learned in this class that dying can be the most costly and painful experience and that most likely, I will end up dying in a hospital and not the place of my choice with the other 70% of Americans. I learned that I live in a society where the people who should be working to sustain my life can’t even empathize with me and consequently, see me only as a barrage of vital signs. Dying is a time that should be when a person is surrounded by those who care but instead are alone and feel purposeless. I live in a society that would make it hard for me to “age in place” and solely, wants to “make gray gold”; a society that forces young women to be the primary caregiver of her elderly parents because she cannot trust that the people who are trained to take care of her parents would actually take care of them. One thing that is worth taking away from this class is making sure that I know the wishes of my aging family members. Although, having this conversation makes the inevitability of death more real, it can serve to bring our family close together now which is what really matters.
As some of my classmates have mentioned, I was initially interested in taking a sociology course. Being a psychology major and having done extensive work in social psych, I assumed I already knew everything I needed. I think I may have been unsure about what sociology actually meant, and did not think it would be applicable to my career path.
During the course, I was pleasantly surprised. While there was a lot of reading, a lot of it was really interesting stuff that I would have never been exposed to in other classes. Most of the things we learned can be applied to a vast number of professions in the medical field, and I often found myself thinking about it in specific terms of clinical psychology. I definitely became a lot more educated on the structure (or lack of structure) of the health care system in both the U.S. and in other countries. Though I am not headed to medical school, I enjoyed learning about the hidden curriculum and other aspects of medical education that I was not familiar with. Being a psych major, my favorite conversations were definitely those about stigma and mental health issues.
In closing, I enjoyed the course a lot more than I was expecting to. I learned a lot and I think the course is a valuable one for anyone planning to work in the medical field.
Coming into this course I was under the impression that I had a decent amount of knowledge on the current state of our healthcare system….boy, was I wrong. Can we even call what we have right now a healthcare system? When I think of a healthcare system I think of a system that focuses primarily on providing affordable and easily accessible healthcare. Instead, our healthcare system places great emphasis on making money wherever it can, allowing the patient’s (consumer’s?) health to come second. What puzzles me the most is knowing that having somewhat an ideal system is achievable. If Canada, Germany and Great Britain can then why can’t we?
The most shocking issue that we covered was end-of-life care. I never realized the amount of mistreatment and just lack of care the elderly experience. Throughout the time spent on this topic, I found myself questioning whether or not my own relatives had encountered the harsh treatment experienced in these facilities. This course touched upon a great deal of topics that had never crossed my mind. Learning about the effects of SES on healthcare was pretty eye opening as well. I think it should be a mandatory course for anyone considering a career in healthcare. Most universities emphasize the science component behind this field but it goes beyond that. Maybe this is why we see such a great deal of disconnect between a patient and his doctor. I also believe that in order improve the field that you’re entering in, you should make yourself aware of the current issues at hand. My favorite component of the course was discussion. Although information from lecture was often reiterated, your enthusiasm for the content was refreshing and helpful! This has been one of my favorite courses thus far at BU, and this is coming from someone who could not make it past 3 lectures of SO 100!
Looking back on this semester, I can safely say that this class has pleasantly surprised me. To be honest, I was not looking forward to taking a sociology class because of the daunting amount of reading and writing, something I thought I’d be done with after freshman year writing classes. It’s hard for me to think abstractly about themes and ideas and I would much rather write a scientific article than an essay. However, the topics discussed in this class have been so fascinating to me that I actually enjoy reading and writing about them.
This class especially has given me a critical eye on medical school. I have always thought of hospitals as such magnificent places where some of the smartest people in the world work. Medical school has always seemed like the place to be, and it has been my dream to attend medical school and then one day work in a hospital. Because of the competitiveness and high standards of medical school applications, I have always had the utmost respect for medical students. However, after learning about the hidden curriculum and the socialized dominance of medical students and professionals, I see them all in a new light. I wonder if being a doctor will really allow me to help individuals as much as other professions do. I have definitely reconsidered my decision to attend medical school. There are so many other medical professions and settings that would be just as rewarding as being a hospital doctor. I have a friend who is a nursing major at Northeastern and she is only a sophomore but has already taken classes that are directly applicable to the hospital setting. If we were both thrown into a medical situation she would know exactly what to do in the moment, and the most I could offer would be some basic biology facts. It really is interesting to compare different health professions, especially how they are socialized and taught in school. This class has guided me to rethink my career choices by taking a critical approach to the medical world.
At the beginning of the semester, I was not very excited to be taking a sociology class, to be completely honest. For starters, I wasn’t completely sure what sociology was. The study of society just did not seem appealing to me, and it definitely didn’t seem like something I wanted to spend time learning about. Many upperclassmen scared me off from taking sociology 101 because they told me it was very mundane and even boring, especially if taken right after psychology 101. Their warnings are what brought me to this class, the sociology of healthcare. I was cautious at first, expecting class to be tedious.
However, I quickly learned that although maybe sociology isn’t the most riveting subject for some people, it is fascinating to me. Continue reading “Reflecting on the Semester”