Sociology of Healthcare has definitely been one of the more interesting courses I have taken at Boston University. As a senior in Sargent College, I have taken many health and health-related courses before, but I liked how this course had a different spin and perspective to it. I never really understood what sociologists did, but it was eye-opening to see that they discover and question the underlying factors that influence things, such as healthcare in the United States. Personally, I felt that the first lecture lingered with me and laid the foundation of the course for the semester because we learned about the stark difference between sociology in medicine and sociology of medicine. I never thought about the idea that you can question the healthcare system and the science behind it because in society, it is just accept as truth. The fact that sociologists can question and explore the history and factors that created healthcare into what it is today is incredible. I also found this class to be relatively important because healthcare is something we are affected by in daily life, whether we want to or not. Because of the practicality of the information we gained, we know about the Affordable Care Act, healthcare motives and trends, hospital history, different medical professions, the costs behind healthcare, factors that influence different types of people in relation to health coverage, and much more. The topic of socioeconomic factors stuck with me as well because no matter where we are in the social, gender, or race hierarchy, socioeconomic factors will always influence healthcare the most throughout the gradient. Although I do not have plans for medical school, I can take away so many relevant topics from this course as I seek for careers in healthcare administration and policy. Sociology of Healthcare was insightful and this course has been a delight.
In “Understanding Racial-ethnic Disparities in Health : Sociological Contributions”, David Williams and Michelle Sternthal explore racial and ethnic inequalities in health in the United States. Personally, I am a proponent of color-blindness, but I question if it is a possibility in America’s future. The section of this publication titled “Racism and Health” opened my eyes to the concrete data and evidence that shows that our nation is still inherently racist, both intentionally and unintentionally. Williams and Sternthal reveal the very real presence of racial segregation that remains in this nation to this day, and this concerns me greatly.
Is institutional and wide-spread color-blindness a possibility in the future here in the United States? What, if anything, can/must be done to bring this change about? Is segregation and racism an unavoidable and everlasting aspect of our cultural fabric now?
My greatest and most pressing challenges in this class have begun with the question: “Ok, so…now what?”. Let me break that down a little. First of all, I’m not in this class because I want to be a doctor, pharmacist, or health insurer; more specifically, when we all graduate and become a part of the working world, I know won’t be someone who can make a direct difference for patients who are being shafted by the system. Here at BU, I study sociology and public health, so I’m left staring at pages and pages of all of these problems, wondering “what can I do?”
I deeply feel the conflict of whether I’ll work in sociology in medicine (where I might work with doctors to see how to improve outcomes and satisfaction within the system) and sociology of medicine (where I could be critical and work to reinvent the systems altogether).
I take one step further and realize that I’ve never been concerned about healthcare for Americans until I took this class. My parents have great comprehensive (and expensive) healthcare through BU because my Dad is a professor here. From here I think about the fact that many of the people who have the most power and prestige in this country are the ones who are already satisfied and are, therefore, uninterested in changing the system that hurts so many others. I feel a personal connection to—and guilt about—Rothman’s argument that the system is the way it is because of the selfishness of the middle class. I think he means me.
And that brings me to my last concern, on a greater scale. Between the middle class’s failure, and the stakeholder mobilization theory that Quadagno address’s, I fear that we are, for lack of a better word, screwed. We see so many other countries where health care systems are better in terms of life expectancy, cost effectiveness, infant mortality rates, access to care, universal coverage for care, and every other factor that helps determine how good a healthcare system is. I fear that the independent, by-the-bootstraps American ideology our culture clings on to, will stop us from adopting a similar that helps saves the lives and dollars of the American people. Can I blame republicans? Is that fair? Is it me and my parents, not pushing hard enough for change? If we know our system is bad, and we know it needs to change but the country is divided, is there still a hope to change it?
So here I am, stuck, wondering, “Now what?”
As a senior in Sargent College studying health science and minoring in public health, I have been exposed to what the healthcare system is like in the United States many times and that it is a huge problem that essentially has no one right answer. In most of my courses where we have discussed the healthcare system, I am always left wondering whether there will be any possible solutions that will work in the future to fix the system and wonder why the system it is the way it is; in the end, I figured the healthcare system was consumer driven. Last year, I took a course called Organization and Delivery of Healthcare in the United States, which first exposed me to this alternate universe of medicine and healthcare. However, the class only discussed the problems with the healthcare system and went into how the system specifically works. Before signing up for Sociology of Healthcare, I was not aware that this course would be centered on the healthcare system and its problems. The reasons this class is interesting though is because of its focus on sociology, which gives a different angle to healthcare. I have been impressed with not only the fact that sociology of medicine can point out the problems, but that it challenges the theories and assumptions that have been already made and looks back on the history and trends of the US healthcare system. This class also allows the students to think of solutions and discuss how outcomes could be different if certain aspects of the system were altered. Continue reading “Process Reflection 1”