I took this class to help me to become a better, more empathetic future practitioner. The lessons I learned definitely achieved this goal. Some of the things I learned from the class include, how to be respectful of people’s boundaries, how to make sure that patients are comfortable and relatively unafraid, and how to be a good practitioner. I learned a wealth of new knowledge by taking this course but I can’t discuss it all in this paper. Some of the topics that really stood out to me were: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the effects of low health literacy, and the impacts of substance abuse and addiction.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was a hierarchy developed in the 1960’s by psychiatrist Abraham Maslow. His hierarchy is based on the basic needs for human existence. Our most basic need is at the bottom of the pyramid and that need is Physiological. These Physiological needs are the basis for what everything else in life depends on. These are things like food, water, and oxygen. At the top of Maslow’s pyramid is Self-actualization, something that is possible only if all of the other needs on the pyramid are met. Maslow’s Hierarchy is important for Doctors and clinicians because, as Maslow described it: illness comes from our most basic needs not being fulfilled but by fulfilling a need homeostatic balance (wellness) is restored. When one of our needs is met, we feel a sense of happiness. This also helps clinicians to determine how compliant a patient will be with education or treatment.
The next topic I want to address is low health literacy and its impact on society. Not understanding what your healthcare provider is saying to you is hard. It’s the difference between life and death sometimes but it can be avoided by teaching patients about what you, the clinician, is telling them. Low health literacy can have impacts such as: taking the wrong medication or the right medication at the wrong time, having an incorrect procedure performed, or even not being able to understand a home health aid that you might need.
The average reading level for Americans is 8th grade. This is a fact that I learned not too long ago in class. 1 in 4 children in America doesn’t know how to read or write. This is a statistic that is on the forefront of my sorority’s initiative. Those numbers are appalling but are not numbers that can be easily fixed. That’s why as a practitioner it is so crucial to explain to your patient everything that is going on at an 8th grade level.
The impact of substance abuse and addiction is the third and final topic I want to touch upon in this writing assignment. The book supplementing this course states the definition of addiction as being either a physical or psychological dependance. We learned a little bit in class about substance abuse and how prevalent it is, not just in the United States, but in the world. The book states that physiological dependence affects our body’s chemistry to such an extent that withdrawing from the substance in question shakes the sufferer to their core. Psychological addiction on the other hand affects our brain chemistry. Sometimes addiction begins fairly benign, drinking or doing drugs is a way to relieve stress or at other times they’re a way to escape a harsh reality.
Odds are, in my time as a future healthcare worker, I will come in contact with someone who knows or who struggles with addiction. Currently I know at least three people in my life who struggle with substance abuse and I know one who has died. Learning how to fix such a prevalent problem is something I would like to do in the future and acknowledging that it exists is the first step to seeing resolution. As my mom says, “You can’t save every puppy in the pound.” but I would like to save as many as I can and I feel that in a healthcare profession it’s imperative to know the warning signs and the symptoms before it becomes out of hand. Overall this class taught me a lot of things. It gave me tools that I need to become a better healthcare professional in the future. I hope to become a Doctor one day and though it is no easy task I feel as though this class has helped prepare me for a more compassionate future in medicine.
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