Health and Illness

Group 7 Digital Poster

Problems in Healthcare

48 million Americans are without health insurance [1], 46.7 million Americans live at or below the poverty line [2], leaving health care a commodity for the wealthy.

Since the 1950’s, health care expenses have had a 50-fold increase, leading the average, single American to spend approximately 8 thousand dollars a year in health-related costs [3]. The corporatization of medicine has not only increased the per capita expenditures, it has also had detrimental effect on the access, and quality of health care in the United States.

With the rise of Medicare and Medicaid, and the shift from non-profit to proprietary hospitals, patients were no longer viewed as ‘patients’ but revenue bodies [1]. Highly influenced by profit margins, physicians began to alter their medical decisions based on what was profitable, with little or no regard to the need of the patient. This overutilization of diagnostic and treatment services are all major factors affecting the rising healthcare costs. Medicare and Medicaid have various regulations that limit what services citizens can receive, and many physicians will not accept these forms of insurance, limiting the quality of care citizens can receive.

The standardization of the healthcare system has also led to an increase of cutbacks in order to raise profits [3]. The workload distribution has shifted from medical doctors, to qualified nurses, and less qualified nursing assistants with no reflection in salary to compensate this change. The dehumanizing conditions of high responsibility and low pay had lead many professionals to leave the healthcare field, creating an even greater shift in the workload distribution and quality of care patients receive [3].

Works Cited

[1] C. DeNavas-Walt, B. D. Proctor, J. C. Smith, (2012). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-245

[2] Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014, Retrieved from

[3] Social Problems by Thomas J. Sullivan, 10th edition

[4] Image retrieved from

Personal Experiences

Melissa Smith

Most of my family is in the health care and that has been good and bad at the same time growing up. It has been great because we have understood how to have good preventative care in order to not get sick but it has also been bad because we have had better understanding of how health can quickly deteriorate. Both of my grandparents have had rough patches in their health. My grandpa has constantly been in and out of the hospital because he complains of having shortness of breath and chest pain. Almost every time we take him in the doctors cannot find anything wrong with him. This has led to a constant struggle of trying to determine what is worth taking him to the hospital and what isn't. This has definitely put a lot of stress on my family as we are constantly worrying about is health and if he actually has something wrong going on with his heart, For now we just try and keep an eye on his daily health and when anything does act up we take him in just to be safe and make sure nothing bad is going on.

Sydney Ito

This section affects everyone on some type of level, whether it be severe or mild. As an aspiring PA, I've already experienced a few incidents. The first one was when I was 9 years old. I went to visit my dad at one of his consultations for his clinical study with diabetes. Growing up I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, however this partially day has always stuck with me. My father's patient asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, so naturally I told him I wanted to be a doctor, his response was, "Wow! Good for you darlin', but I think you might enjoy being a nurse even more!". I remember going home that day and seriously questioning everything, which was ridiculous because I was only 9, but I felt as though I had it all wrong. Were girls only supposed to be nurses?

Then in high school my Anatomy Class had the opportunity to visit St. Vincent's hospital in Portland to watch an open heart triple ti-pass. I remember not being able to sleep the night before - it was like the feeling you get right before you go to Disney Land - I was so ecstatic about this field trip! That surgery by far was one of the most outstandingly powerful and touching experiences I've ever had. Aside from the "gross" factor that many people might be picturing, these surgeons spend 2-4 hours standing up while operating on someone's heart. The patients are literally brought back to life after the surgeon carefully reconstructs the most important muscle in your body. I could go on about how moving it was, but overall it gave me even further motivation to not only pursue a career in Health Care, but also inspired me to consider Emergency Medicine.

The class was allowed to ask the surgeon some questions after the surgery, so I asked him if he knew what the percentage was of women surgeons in this specialization. His response was not at all what I expected and another conversation I'll vividly remember for the rest of my life. Very frankly he said, "Not many, why do you ask?" So I basically reiterated the above by explaining how moving this was and how I've always felt that my place in this world was to help people. He then responded with, "Well you're right. My job is very hard and rewarding but not many women can handle the job. Surgery takes a lot of stamina and women just tend to have a harder time keeping up with the big dogs. I'm not telling you that you can't do it, but nursing might be a better option for you being such a small lady. Nurses still help out with surgery but you need to be strong. Usually the more manly women become surgeons. Does that answer your question?". My jaw felt as though it physically fell off and dropped to the floor.

Already within an 8 year span I'd been placed into this socially sexist box supporting the idea that you have to be masculine to obtain an M.D. The text also discusses a lot about "male dominance" in this particular workforce and how this could be the underlying reason behind this kind of gender discrimination. The more men and less women there are holding high positions, the more likely there is to be discrimination like I've experienced. The chapter also explores the idea of the negative stigma around menstruation and female reproductive health. It was suggesting that perhaps the reason behind the idea of menstruation being though of as "dirty" and the female anatomy being "gross" is because we don't have enough women working in the industry - that maybe there's too many men dominating the workforce and not enough personal understanding of the Woman's body. Part of being a good physician is relating to the patient and if all the Physicians are men, there's not much empathy going on. It makes me sad to still live in a time where women are being influenced to pursue more "feminine careers" and I hope we see a drastic change in this mindset. Health Care and Jobs in Medical Services affects everyone - whether male or female - and both sexes should equally be taking part not only as patients, but physicians as well.

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David Holman

I have never personally experienced any issues relating to health and illness, however I have been indirectly affected, and I have seen how it has had major impacts on others lives. I have personally seen its effect on my younger brother's life. Although he had never had any big issue with health or illness, when he got into high school he started facing major bouts of depression. At first none of us really understood what was happening. All we knew was that suddenly he was beginning to distance himself from everyone who he cared about and who cared about him. He stopped doing the things he loved to do, such as sports, playing music, hanging out with friends, and just being with our family. Additionally, his grades began to drop as well, which was a huge cue to us that something was wrong, as he had always been a straight A student. What we ended up discovering was that he felt that the pressures from school and his peers was too great for him, and he felt he could never live up to the expectations that were being asked of him. At some points, we would rarely see him throughout the week, and we would only occasionally see him at dinner once or maybe twice a week. Depression is something everyone has heard about, but something that no one thinks will happen to them or to someone they love. Eventually, my brother was able to get some medication that helps him fight the depression, but it may be a challenge he has to fight against for the rest of his life.

Alexander Iverson

Technology has the potential to greatly increase the quality and safety of health care.

“Today, US scientists announced that an autonomous surgical robot designed to suture soft tissue, completely independent of human control or guidance, managed to outperform human surgeons.”[1]

This is one example of many. While new health care technology is promising, it also costs money. Many of us can relate through personal experience or through a loved one having to choose between options; can we afford the newer, better option? My grandfather faced this dilemma not long ago. He was told by his doctor that he had 3 benign cancers in his prostate. His options were to leave them be as they were benign, or to take care of them immediately. Originally his option was to have the VA operate and remove them. However, anyone that has experience with VA hospitals can attest to their questionable care. After hearing negative experiences from a few of his friends that undergone similar treatment, he explored his options. He later learned of a treatment called Cyberknife which is a form of non-invasive radiosurgery[2]. At first neither his insurance nor the VA wanted to cover the costs and he considered paying for it himself. Eventually they gave into his unrelenting phone calls and gave him the go-ahead. This particular story may have a good ending, but not everyone is so lucky. Many have to choose the lesser of their options or go into serious debt. Patients in third world countries don’t even have an option.

[1] A New Surgical Robot Just Outdid Human Surgeons: May 05, 2016.

[2] What is the CyberKnife® System?

Lauren Hunter-Mental Illness

Health and wellness is an unavoidable social problem for everyone in life. Your health is something that needs to be monitored, and for the most part we as people work very hard to stay as healthy as we can each and everyday. I was directly affected by the issue of mental health in my family. My great grandma lived to be 101 years old, just until about a week ago, and that age is enough to prove what a healthy life she lived. It wasn't always easy though, for about the past year, she had been going in and out of the cognitive state, as her brain was causing her to have delusions, and believe things that weren't actually happening were. This had nothing to do with the way she lived her life, it was the fact that she was 101 years old, and the mental illness was just happening because of her old age. It was not easy on my family, as she would go through bouts of being completely delusional and we would think she was about to pass, but then she would bounce back as if everything was fine. You never knew what you were going to get as she woke up very morning because of the mental illness. There was nothing we could do to fix this issue, all we could do was be there for her through this exhausting experience. Although it wasn't the mental illness specifically that caused my great grandma to pass, it made the last bit of her life more difficult for the entire family. Her growing to be 101 year old, and surviving a year with a mental illness proves that living a healthy life pays off in the long run.

Megayn Henriquez

In the summer of 2008, I went to the office of Dr. Paul Singh, a local OB-GYN, for birth control. I was not quite 18 years old yet and still under a family insurance plan through Medicaid. This was my first time ever going to this doctor,he was very nice and informed me of various options for birth control. He asked me what my 5 and 10 year goals were; I told him I planned on going to college and wanted to wait to start a family until I had a career. He then became very insistent on giving me an IUD. He was reassuring that it was safe, there have never been any complications, etc. I believed him, I trusted him… he was a doctor after all.

Everything from that point was routine, he sent the referral to the Medicaid office for the IUD approval. I waited 3 days then received a call from his secretary telling me I was approved. This should have been a red flag, as it was the fastest approval I’ve ever received.

Two weeks after I received the IUD I got a bill in the mail for $1,746. I called the office, they said not to worry, sometimes it takes Medicaid a couple of weeks to process it. A week later I received another for $3,500; a combination of the first bill and a new bill for service fees. I called the office again and they told me to call the Medicaid office. Meanwhile, the whole time I was in constant pain and bleeding heavily. They told me this was normal and that after a few months’ time it would go back to normal.

Medicaid never approved the IUD, they never received a referral, only a bill for his services and the IUD. What I received was harassing phone calls from his office, telling me I had to pay or the bill or it would go to collections. I also received a lovely trip to the emergency room 3 months later because I started to hemorrhage and had to have the IUD removed… all to find that the IUD he implanted wasn’t approved by the FDA.