Why We Need More Health Disparities Training in Medical School

When I was growing up, my mother often recounted the story of a dermatologist who figured out that the fungal infection in her hands stemmed from sensitivity to dishwashing liquid. He had asked basic questions about her living circumstances during the first visit, recommended she wear gloves when washing dishes from that point on, and saw improvement in the follow-up appointment. He didn’t charge her for the second appointment as he knew my mom was uninsured at the time and struggling financially. When my mom inquired about the fee, he simply said, “Your getting well is my fee” and gave her sample medications.

Hearing this account made me realize what a significant impact socioeconomic status has on health. As a minor and an American citizen growing up in New York City, I was fortunate to be automatically insured. I took for granted regular visits to the pediatrician. However, when my mom immigrated to the United States, access to basic medical care was a luxury.

It would be naïve, though, for me to confine the implications of this account to unequal access to health care services. What was particularly salient for me was that this physician took the time to learn more about my mom’s living conditions. In the end, where and how she lived served as the most helpful indicators of the treatment she needed...

Read full article originally posted on Primary Care Progress

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