Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why I realised the importance of the psychosocial in medicine...

Women of the world
Women of the world by robynejay

Students often don't seem to understand why the social sciences are important to understanding health and the way that we organise health services. The relevance has always seemed rather obvious to me but then I have to wonder if this doesn't have something to do with my own personal circumstances. Or else wouldn't all medical students think the same? So a few facts about me, the person who entered medical school in Belfast aged 18:

  • I grew up on a small farm in Northern Ireland
  • I'm the eldest of 4 children
  • My maternal grandmother died in childbirth
  • My mother's aunt started living with us when I was 6. My mother cared for her for 25 years until she died aged 103
  • My family had a great interest in politics and my father was elected as a local councillor
  • My father died suddenly when I was 14
  • The family income fell as a result of my father's death but we were no longer entitled to free school meals
  • I took a GCSE in sociology when at school. My coursework project considered why although the school was predominantly female, we only made up 1/3 of the a-level physics class.

I don't usually write about personal things here and there is a lot more I could say about what might have shaped my identity as a doctor. I am left wondering if many students don't question the structures and practice of medicine (insights that can be gained from the social sciences) because nothing in their own personal lives has sensitised them to the way that we organise society. 

If this is so, what can we do about it? If I am wrong, then what can we do about it? Either way we need to do something to shake things up.

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