Another school year has come and is now quickly coming to an end; to be more specific, my first year of university has come and is now quickly coming to an end. Looking back, I realize that I have learned so many things in school that I never thought I would learn, or moreover enjoy learning. Equally as important as the academic knowledge that I have obtained, I have also learned many valuable non-academic skills and lessons–not always the easy way. At the beginning of freshman year, I was so anxious to get to know everyone and make new friends and join a new community. I was open and making sure to be vulnerable, as I had learned was important from Brene Brown. However, the one thing that I had difficulty with was interacting with the PAs, RAs, and GSIs. Being that they were people of higher authority, I knew that there were boundaries that were to be respected; furthermore, I guess I had the notion that I was supposed to be more or less professional with them. As the year progressed, however, I saw other students hanging out with them and I quickly learned the importance of networking in American university society. I was, in a way, scared and unsure as to how to approach them, or how casual I was allowed to be with them. In addition, I was slightly embarrassed to ask older people questions pertaining to being a successful student, and I think because of all this, although I was able to establish great relations with several of them, I definitely did not optimize my opportunity. If I could travel back to the beginning of freshman year, I would tell myself that many of these people aren’t here just to teach; they are also here because they genuinely want to help you in any way that they can and help you succeed in college.
The fundamental purpose of healthcare professionals is–and should be–to help each person achieve optimum health. However, as evident through history, there have been many incidents where health professionals ended up hurting their patients/subjects. In cases such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the Nazi human experimentation, the experimenters believed that they had good purposes; however, the reality was that these unethical ideologies were normalized as perceived as “good” purposes. Unfortunately, there have also been cases where the physician is aware that what they are doing is unethical, as was the case in Michigan’s Dr. Death incident. The physician was still serving a “good” cause–a cause that was only beneficial (to a certain extent) to himself. In both scenarios, the physicians’ purposes shift from helping people attain optimum health to a different purpose that is wielded by social forces. As a result, patients/subjects are dehumanized and are seen as opportunities for the physicians to attain their goals.
I believe that it is crucial to profoundly discuss these topics because they are often looked over. Before this lecture, I was not aware that these sort of unethical medical practices still occur; this means that the negative stigma around physicians and the U.S. healthcare system in general are only being perpetuated. This lecture also made me realize the holistic responsibility that will come with being a future healthcare professional. As a pre-public health student, I realize that my actions will not only affect a single patient, but rather an entire population. In order to ensure that I do not perpetuate any unethical actions as I pursue my career, I will continue to remind myself that I am working WITH the people, not FOR them. By interacting with the people of the communities that I work with, I hope to be able to get as close to putting myself in their shoes so that I can truly understand what is best for them.
All of that said, my question to you all is: what are some ways that you believe health professionals (specifically the type of professionals that you aspire to be) can reduce negative stigma and gain back people’s trust?
This first semester of at U of M has been quite a journey. The first semester has consisted of many, many new experiences, most of which I had not anticipated when I began college. The biggest way that I have changed personally would probably have to be that I have gained more awareness and responsibility for my personal health–especially my mental health. During midterm season, the repercussions of stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and other social factors had all gradually built up on me and simultaneously targeted my mental health. Although this was definitely not a fun time for me, through this I have gained more responsibility for the care of my mental health.
I have also learned to gain more responsibility for myself on a professional level. Unlike high school, most opportunities are not going to be handed to you; rather, it is your duty to go out and find them. This goes for academics, jobs, internships, resources, etc.
Reading my letter, one of the things that I had wrote under “Things to remember/remind yourself about” was “Always cherish and be grateful for every single person in your life; show them that you care.” Throughout first semester, I have formed several wonderful relationships with different people. Looking back now, I realize that I have been doing a good job of taking the time every now and then to reflect on the relationships that I have with different people and to remind myself to express my gratefulness for them.
Next semester I hope to extend my focus past just academics and engage myself more in different extracurricular. I also want to make sure that I focus on taking good care of my physical and mental health, so that I am able to be happy and healthy on all levels.
Not having had any knowledge about the medical history of opioid use, I was struck right from the beginning at the notion of the opioid epidemic being an iatrogenic. Suddenly, my perception of doctors and medical treatments had changed yet again (the first time was when I learned about health/treatment disparities caused by unconscious biased). What is alarming to me is that this opioid iatrogenic was induced by the misconception that physicians were improving patient health with the treatments that they were prescribing at the time.
By using the socio-ecological model, we can analyze and identify the different factorial levels that contribute to the induction of the epidemic. One level at which we could intervene to try to mitigate this problem is the individual level. This would mean providing patients with knowledge on the history of opioid use and the potential risks that come along with it. This can be mediated in several different ways, whether that be through distributing informational pamphlets in the doctor’s office or conducting group education sessions at the hospital. By making different health resources available to patients, they are able to gain more control over their own bodies.
Another level that can be intervened is the interpersonal level. As portrayed by the post-Civil War opium addiction and the Ann Arbor local who had died due to overdose, people with histories of opioid use/abuse are at a greater risk of abusing the drug. A potential method for reducing this risk is providing the patients who are prescribed large amounts of opium a counselor whom they can speak with regularly about how they are feeling. The counselors would check on the patients regularly and pay attention for any symptoms suggesting overdose/abuse.