Topic: “Letter of Advice to Cousin Sammy” This week we turn our attention to t
Topic: “Letter of Advice to Cousin Sammy”
This week we turn our attention to the profession of medicine focusing on the physician. Being a medical doctor has not always been viewed as a “noble” profession. In fact, it wasn’t until several years after the American Civil War and the advancement of medical/scientific standards that medical doctors became more widely respected by the public at large. As we learn from Dr. William Cockerham in chapters 10 and 11, the road to prominence and power and respect was long and winding and required a great deal of organizing and political maneuvering. Much of the credit is given to the establishment of the American Medical Association, a powerful, self-governing, impenetrable, professional society, mostly originally of White men, that over time created dominance over the human body through a combination of science and mystique. While “God” may have been our creator, physicians were viewed by many as next in line.
But, as with so many things in society today, the medical landscape is shifting rapidly. The AMA has lost much of its power and influence. Physicians are becoming ever more specialized and siloed in their training and expertise. Insurance companies and governments that “pay the bills” are “managing care” and have much to say and are saying much. Pharmaceutical companies also are driving much of the discourse (and the costs/profits) and telling patients to go “Ask your doctor about ____” drug. As many would aptly argue, and they would be right, medicine today is Big Business and many people are choosing to abandon this noble profession for other careers in part because of the stress brought on by a burdensome bureaucracy, the growing corporate mentality, the constant threat of litigation, and the insurmountable paperwork. On top of this, the internet has now made everyone an instant “expert” from the comfort of their couch, diminishing the mystique and status of the physician. Patients are becoming less dependent on physicians, literally “shopping around” and deciding for themselves about what is the most appropriate for their health. Indeed, the relationship between “physician-patient” is transitioning into one of “provider-consumer.” On top of all this, we are reminded this week through the supplemental videos that traditional medical training appears to not be keeping up with the “soft skills” necessary to address the cultural shifts occurring in our society. Let’s not forget that pretty soon America will be a “majority-minority” country.
We hope you are now beginning to recognize the value of studying Medical Sociology – if nothing else for its ability to question and to “see” the larger context within this rapidly evolving socio/cultural/political/religious/economic/professional landscape.
Scholar Pod Reflection 5a: “Letter of Advice to Cousin Sammy”
For this Scholar Pod
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