Why aren’t we teaching doctors how to think?

In the book “How Doctors Think”, Groopman introduces us to a woman named Anne Hodge who had a long history of illness. She has visited doctors regularly for years but still saw her health deteriorating. Many of these doctors diagnosed Anne with different ailments but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain and nothing got to the source of her illness. No doctor communicated with her effectively or listened to her. With this case, Groopman discusses the nature of thinking and how a doctor comes to his conclusions. Groopman believes that future generations of doctors are being “conditioned to function like…computers” (Groopman, p. 6). Future doctors should not only focus on scientific aspects of disease and illness but also the physical and social implications they present. Groopman discussed Anne Dodge’s visit with her doctor, Dr. Myron Falchuk. Instead of just looking at scientific factors he looked at her as a person and what he saw on the outside was highly telling. She was “suffering” (Groopman, p. 11) immensely and her symptoms weren’t adding up. Dr. Falchuk was able to give her the proper diagnosis and Anne was finally able to get relief from the disease. It is astonishing that it took 15 years to help this poor woman. My question is why are we still using and teaching old practices or methods of finding and curing disease when they are simply not working or do not target the problem? Groopman suggests that “open ended questions” (Groopman, p.18) are necessary to allow the patient “freedom of speech” (Groopman, p.18). Why aren’t these practices taught or utilized in today’s medical training? Why isn’t this a focus? Why aren’t we teaching doctors how to think?

Teen Health Study Shows There’s Not Enough Screening for Depression


The article “Teen Health Study: Less Than Half Are Being Screened For Depression” reminds us about the importance of screening for depression, and sheds light on the issue of inadequate screening for depression. A recent health study in Minnesota concluded that less than half of teenagers are being adequately screened for depression. The analysis focused on patients aged 12-17, and highlighted that Minnesota health clinics are failing in their job to accurately test for depression. The study found that “only 40 percent of those teens received a mental health screening” (Sommers, par.3). The health department emphasized the importance of mental health screening, “since half of all cases of mental illness begin showing up by age 14” (Sommers, par.6). Even concerned parents emphasized there disappoint in Minnesota health clinics, with one parent stating the how effective adequate mental health screening can be. The Minnesota Department of Health is working on a solution to this problem, one of them being that they developed a “standard set of criteria to measure the quality of health care providers across the state” (Sommers, par.12). They are hopeful that they can fix this problem, in order to more accurately inform patients about their mental health status.

I think this article does a great job in emphasizing the importance of mental health status. It is very encouraging that the state of Minnesota recognizes their inadequate mental health screening, and work on a solution to fix this problem. Depression is a major mental health issue in the United States, and many patients often go untreated or undiagnosed. Accurately diagnosing someone with depression can cause a lot of relief for the patient, and as we discussed in class, can help with de-stigmatization. Diagnosing someone with depression, or any other mental illness, can help decrease the blame that person gets for being the way they are. Having a medical label justifies that they cannot perform in the level that they are expected too, so the blame is no longer on them, but on their condition. The article is definitely encouraging, and I truly hope they find the solution they need in order to fix this problem, as it could help a lot of teenagers overcome the obstacles that come with mental diseases.

Gender Gap in Healthcare: Heart Care and Reasons for the Difference in Life Expectancy

As we learned last week, the effects of both gender and socioeconomic status have an effect on the life expectancy and health of the individual in question. These both provide the person with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have if they were of a lower socioeconomic status or of an opposing genders. A recent study shows however that there might be this inequality in the hospitals themselves.

In this article, it states that women are less likely to get warned of the risk for heart disease by their doctors, due to the doctors understanding it as a “men’s” disease. Because of this, men are more likely to get treated for heart disease due to the doctor telling them beforehand and giving them prevention methods. As a result, 4.5% of women below 60 died in hospitals compared to the 3% of men below 60 due to heart diseases.

This raises serious issues in regards to both research and treatment. In regards to treatment, whenever a person is shown to have symptoms of anything, be it heart disease or any other disease, it is the job of the doctor to inform the patient and not act under the guise of it being a specific gender disease. It is not the patient who is at fault in situations like these, as he/she would not know they have anything wrong with them until it is too late, but rather it is the fault of the doctor. In regards to research, the very last line of the article pointed out a clear fault that we have been talking about for quite a while last week: “Officials should also enforce existing policies that require women to be included in research instead of men only, she added.”. The reasons why doctors would think this way would be because not enough research is done on female subjects so only data involving males is obtained. If we are to prevent diseases in general, we have to have research to understand both the female and male anatomy and their susceptibility to diseases or we won’t understand the entire picture of said condition.



Social Construction

In Peter Conrad and Kristin Barker’s article, they explain the concept of social constructionism and say that “the emphasis is on how meanings of phenomena do not necessarily inhere in the phenomena themselves but develop through interaction in a social context.” In other words, the disease itself may have an entirely different meaning than the illness, based on social context, cultural differences, lack of knowledge, and different perceptions. They also claim that a “stigmatized illness can make an illness much more difficult to treat and manage” and then go into the example about HIV/AIDS and how people are less likely to seek help for their condition. Because technology heavily influences social behavior and experiences today, do you think this has anything to do with how we view illnesses and diseases? Technology, especially the Internet, allows information to be public, available, and accessible as well, so is it bad that all this excess information is available since the public is able to interpret it however they want to? Should we be focusing on educating and reducing the stigma in society instead of giving out all this information to the public?