Health and Culture

From what I viewed in the video, modern-day healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses are very conscious of time, they seem pressed of time or that they are always running out of it.

This may be very obvious in that people who live in modern societies are very busy people—they always have a lot of things in their hand to do which explains why these people prize time. From a ‘modern’ individual’s perspective taking care of responsibilities or obligations is important and this is closely connected to the value or importance a modern individual puts in time.

Biomedicine specifically deals with treatment of illnesses by application of biological and physiological principles and therefore could be described as done in such a way as to use the scientific method in solving a problem, which is treating a disease (Institute).

The routine in biomedicine is to use a scientific approach that is done objectively which means not being tainted by bias, is investigative and sadly but oftentimes impersonal.

Therefore the latter (objectivity, investigative, impersonal) could be also presupposed as values in themselves that are reflected in biomedicine. This is because supposedly approaches or well-defined routines in a particular culture or field reflect those which could be considered as values.

Also, the routines in themselves would not be established, crystallized or solidified in anyway if it weren’t for the values themselves, in other words values contribute to the formation of routines but it is the values themselves which define the routines of those belonging in a particular culture or in a particular setting.

The routines reflect the values fundamental to biomedicine through exercise of such routines. It is through constant exercise of these routines which are considered to be the standard, the protocol, or that which is normally being practiced in a particular type of setting that reflects what we would consider as values.

Therefore if these routines are normally being executed or exercised, the effect is that this would evidently reflect in itself values of a particular group of people or that of a particular type of setting.

For example, it is typical or routine that doctors or nurses in a hospital be able to make judgments regarding their patient’s condition with the use of facts—blood tests, urine tests, and many other kinds of tests.

They could not afford to and should not even make decisions regarding their patient’s health without any accurate basis. If this is what is considered routine in a hospital setting, the value being reflected therefore from the context of biomedicine is that they should be investigative. That means using facts to come up with solutions, in this case, treating a patient.

There are also other cultural values which maybe seen embedded in the scenario. From the video trailer, it was routine for the doctor to be rational. That means modern individuals value reason. On the other hand, as from what was seen from the elderly Navajo man, he seemed not very much troubled of the seriousness of his disease.

His granddaughter explained implicitly the reason for such, what he’s grandfather believes is that he got the disease from an imbalance of himself and must therefore be restored to balance in order to cure the disease. This is what her grandfather believes and so this is what he values.

In my perspective, whichever culture has the capacity to understand must be the one to adjust and be culturally sensitive to the other culture. If life-threatening matters should be addressed it is essential that the other culture who clearly understands more the situation and the risk (such the disease) be able to make the necessary adjustments in order to address the more important issue such as curing the disease.

Necessary adjustments do not mean to be completely drastic, such as adopting the culture of another people, it only means adopting approaches wherein the two cultures could enhance their relation with one another and achieve a common end: to cure the patient.

For instance, it is encouraged that culturally competent individuals have background knowledge of the culture of another people in which they are going to treat or helping to treat (Association).

Because these medical practitioners are armed with such information they can therefore avoid the don’ts of dealing with a particular culture and therefore minimize conflict. Being able to give insights as well to another people about what medical practioner’s know also helps them to understand a disease from another culture’s perspective and gaining knowledge from another culture is equally beneficial. Not only that, it also helps to build a good relationship between both cultures.

This however, must not be taken as universal. As each culture is unique, therefore nuances arise. It is therefore highly encouraged to study carefully the culture of a people which is going to be treated or helped in regards a disease.

For instance, in the case of Navajo Indians part of their beliefs is that there is much power in words that is why they take great caution in what they say  (American Indian Health and Healing (An Example of American Indian Healing: The Navajo)).

This belief presents a problem however for medical practitioners not because of the belief itself but because of its’ impact or the complexities it presents when reporting to a Navajo Indian for example, the state of his disease.

A non culturally competent doctor for example may carelessly explain about possibilities of the disease progressing into something more worse, if not treated properly but because of the value that Navajo Indians place on the power of words (you may think of it as being prophetic) telling or confronting them in fact with the truth may not help at all.

A simple guide that could be used is to be able to have an effective communication across a specific culture. Be open-minded and avoid stereotyping since that generally means closing off ones thoughts and ultimately decreasing the likelihood of an effective communication to another culture. Also, a simpler rule of thumb is do not treat people in a way you don’t want to be treated (Taylor).


American Indian Health and Healing (An Example of American Indian Healing: The Navajo). (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2007, from

Association, A. M. (2007, July 3). Cultural Competency in Medicine. Retrieved July 4, 2007, from

Kaiser Permanente (2005). The Multicultural Health Series: A Community Service Project of Kaiser Permanente and The California Endowment. Los Angeles, CA: The California Endowment

Institute, N. C. (n.d.). Dictionary of Cancer Terms . Retrieved July 4, 2007, from

Taylor, S. (2006). Communication Across Cultures. The British Journal of Administrative Management , 12.