I would like to start this post with a personal story that I swear is (or at least will be) relevant. For years I went to the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. My family was lucky enough to get bleacher seats, since my Dad works for the city. There was one year that a roller skating clown collapsed right in front of us, seemingly from a heart attack. I remember the ways people reacted. Some people gasped, but there were about five people immediately jumped up and ran down the stands while whipping latex gloves out of their pockets. These five people jumped over the barricades and, with the police, helped the clown until EMS got there. I feel like that is the mentality of most people that go into the medical profession. They just want to help.
Starr in his article, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, brings up other conundrums of modern medicine as a profession. He brings up the question of the commodity of medical care. Do doctors sell something, like drugs? Or are you paying for their time and experience? But then the ethical concerns come into play. If a person is having an emergency and cannot pay for your experience, how do you provide them care and still make a living? After watching, The Waiting Room, I can understand how that contradiction is still a struggle for hospitals.
One of the first things that hit me about this piece was the author’s assumptions about modern medicine. Starr says that the profession is a conundrum. It is a leviathan of a system, filled with specialized professionals, but it is not strictly rational. There is no one way to cure people. Starr says that our ideas and reactions to injuries and diseases are (still?) very cultural based. Practices like acupuncture and massage may be used to cure the same issues that pharmaceuticals may. However, acupuncture may not be a practice prescribed by doctors, depending on the culture in which they work.