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  (1) A physician is a person who has gone through formal and extensive training, and certified to carry out the art of healing.  This is a method which originated from the West.  The sector is legalized.  During the course of training a physician is taught the professional ethics which he/she strictly adheres to when interacting with patients.  The work environment is neat, sterile in appearance, and equipped with medical machines for testing.  The job of a physician is highly respected and has spread quickly to most parts of the world relegating other non-professionalize medical healing sectors to the background.  The physicians in the west as described in chapter 4 by Helman, (2007, p.103), ‘paper patients’ are also tech-driven because of all the hi-tech equipments at their disposal to test patients and interpret results produced.  Pilnick, Hindmarsh, and Gill (2009, p.797), did a study which also addresses the role of technology in the healthcare, especially the interaction among the various healthcare providers; hospitals, pharmacies, physiotherapies etc.  They also need to be abreast with what is new in their field.  They have to read thousands of journals annually.  Good as these innovations might be, the patients’ area of complaint isturned into a specimen in the laboratory for which the physician is testing to get result, while the welling of the person is not recognized.  I believe the overload of information by the physician could lead to misdiagnosis adding to the stress of the patient.

As a patient walks into the consulting room in most cases the physician already has information about the person, compiled by the front desk staff and nurses.  While you narrate your symptoms, he is busy writing or typing either what you are saying or what he suspects is wrong with you, because you never get to read that report.  As pointed out by Helman, (p.126), he physician by virtue of his training is only concerned in identifying your disease and not you, the carrier.  How the illness affects your feelings, and the cause of the condition is not discussed. Even when you ask, some would say they do not know.  Your emotional turmoil, financial worries, and family disputes that might have contributed to your illness are not the physician’s concern.  Based on the physician’s experience, and the number of such similar cases he has come across, a diagnosis made, and prescription given to you become a name for your symptoms.  If it is serious, you leave sadder than when you got there (p.129).     

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            The implication of this legalized professional sector where a physician can be sued by his patient in many instances has made them very rigid and detached from their patients. I went through an experience when I visited the United Kingdom in 2007 and fell ill, and had to see a General Practitioner (GP).  While in the consulting room, the GP had a microphone dangling in front of his face which was used to repeat all I was narrating to him. I felt more as if, I was in an interrogation room rather than a doctor’s office.  I found this very humiliating.  This same reason could be why physicians around the world exhibit almost the same attitude towards their patients.  Perhaps, if the threat of losing their licenses over frivolous lawsuits is reviewed, physicians may become relaxed and try to know more about their patients, who in turn may get well soon, or would not have the need for prescription pills after all.

            In some cultures in sub-saharan Africa a patient may already have names for the ailment from the symptoms they experience before seeking medical attention.  Once the physician’s diagnosis does not match theirs, they do not follow treatment regimen prescribed, which sometimes leads to more serious complications.

            Furthermore, as mentioned in the first paragraph, the physician’s office is clean and sterile, their outfit or uniform is sparkling white, and he/she is highly educated.  All of these can be intimidating to a patient from a socially, economically, and educationally disadvantaged strata of society.  A physician who is sensitive would try as much as possible to douse these disparities by showing humility when interacting with patients; allowing them much opportunity to speak, and never interrupts.

Despite all the hard work physicians in America put into their job to keep patients healthy and stay alive, (well into their 80s, 90s, and 100), there is still a lot of distrust about them among the citizens.  What are the reasons?

Secondly, are those who train to be physicians do so because they have the calling or is it just for the big paycheck?     


Helman, C. G., (2007), Culture, Health, and Illness. Boca Raton, FL. Taylor and Francis Group.

Pilnick, A., Hindmarsh, J., and Gill, V. T. (2009) Beyond ‘doctor and patient’; developments in the study of healthcare interactions, Sociology of Health & Illness, 31: 787-802. Doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01194.x   

 (2)When defining the patient’s gender, all of these elements could possibly be a determining factor. At the end of the day, it all depends on the perspective of the person defining the patient’s gender. According to Helman (2007) the gender of an individual depends on the result of complex combination of a number of elements. Genetic gender is based on genotype and the two sex chromosomes. Somatic gender is based on phenotype and sex characteristics. Psychological gender is based on belief, self-perception, and behavior. Social gender is based on how society views genders. So naturally, all of these gender elements could work but it all depends. Let’s take a doctor who is defining the patient’s gender for example. A doctor is going to more than likely use genetic gender to determine whether someone is male or female. Somatic gender would not work because doctors have probably seen women with mustaches or beards, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a man. Psychological gender would not work, because again doctors mostly use scientific reasoning when dealing with health. Social gender wouldn’t work either because doctors could care less about society views. They just want to discuss about health that is objective and measurable. The question discusses about a patient’s gender, and that would mainly deal with healthcare. Healthcare only deals with genetic gender. Of course, there are different procedures to switch things around (which then can change what they will address you as), but until then, they natural follow genetic gender. Dr. Ghosh, who is a developmental-behavioral physician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Montreal Children’s Hospital stated,” Conceptually, professionals dealing with development may fairly state that sex is biologically determined, whereas gender is culturally determined” (Ghosh, 2015). I thought this was very interesting because again, it seems as though gender is a term that just depends on perspective. Gender is something that is not easily spoken about or determined. Many factors go into determining one’s gender. Dr. Short, who is with the Department of Sociology and the Population Studies Training Center at Brown University states,” Variations in chromosomes, hormone levels, and reproductive organs result in more than 2 sexes, reflecting complex processes of sex development across multiple levels, and suggesting that sex itself is culturally constructed. Likewise, individuals transgress normative gender boundaries in everyday life, recasting gender as more than a simple dichotomy of men and women” (Short, 2013). So this tends to make me think that maybe doctors could possibly look at gender in more ways than just genetically. Do you believe sex and gender are one in the same? If not, which do you think is more looked at (or has a higher consideration)?

Ghosh, Shuvo. (2015). Gender Identity. Retrieved from

Helman, Cecil G. (2007). Culture, Health, and Illness (5th ed.). Boca Raton,FL: Taylor & Francis Group.

Short, S. E., Yang, Y. C., & Jenkins, T. M. (2013). Sex, Gender, Genetics, and Health. American Journal of Public Health, 103(0 1), 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301229.

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