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Many cultures of the world embrace traditional healing as either an alternative or an adjunct to Western biomedicine. This is particularly the case for Native American tribes. However, traditional healing and modern medicine should be integrated in addressing health needs of the AI community despite the differences that exist between them (Taylor, 2006, p. 23).
Comparing Western Medicine and Traditional Healing
Broome and Broome (2007, p. 4) describe many differences between western medicine and traditional medicine that health providers need to integrate to provide effective health care services to traditional communities. One of the key differences is the way the AI community views disease. In their views, diseases are complex with little or no simple explanations and measurable outcomes (Broome & Broome 2007, p. 4).
They belief that immoral behavior or unhealthy behavior are direct causes of disease and that physical deformities are thought to be compensated with strong mental and spiritual powers. They see western medicine as responsible for causing an imbalance between an individual and the universe and trust on the abilities of traditional healers to restore that balance.
On the other hand modern American medicine is seen by Broome and Broome (2007, p. 4) to be reductionistic. Broome and Broome (2007, p. 4) compare traditional medicine and western medicine by asserting that diseases are biological processes whose treatment have empirically measurable outcomes.
Modern medicine’s approach to treatment is adversarial. It answers the inquiry about the best approach to destroy a disease and the key to that answer lies in a divide and conquer strategy. On the other hand, traditional AIs approach to the treatment of a patient stems from the kind of lesson the patient is likely to learn from his or her sickness. A disease, according to this approach, is supposed to communicate some message to the patient or provide some history about the patient.
The modern approach embraces a divide and conquer strategy in treating patients by conducting an examination of microscopic causes of a disease. They are based on a scientific theory that explains the disease.
However, the Native American views about a disease incorporate the big picture. Incorporated in the big picture are the root causes of a disease and which define the connection between an individual‘s psychological orientation and the environment. Traditionalists see healing as a concerted involvement of spiritual truths and authorities such as spiritual heads who play a vital role in determining the final state of the patient (Groce, 2006, p. 8).
The case story illustrates other differences between western medicine and traditional medicine to lie in the position of a healer. The traditional healer provides counseling services and empowers patients to take control of themselves. On the other hand western medicine sees the physician as an authority, one who fosters dependence on medicine and technology.
Western medicine is investigative, focusing on the history of a patient. Rapid interventional measures are the result for early disease management. On the other hand traditional medicine links a patient’s history with the environment. Traditional medicine calls upon intervention as a measure to completely cure a disease or timely management of the disease. The difference here is that traditional medicine links a disease with the environment while western medicine focuses on the patient’s family (Broome and Broome 2007, p. 4).
Broome and Broome (2007, p. 1) argue that AIs are federally recognized and get health and education assistance from the Federal government.
In addition to that, demographic information reveals that AIs do not have insurance cover and adversely suffer from the effects of ill health, causing many of them to seek medical interventions from traditional healers as western medicine comes with very high costs they can not afford, a case in point, Mr. Wolf and his wife. All that the health provider should do and how to do it is discussed below.
The Case with Mr. Wolf and His Wife
Based on the above discussion, Mr. Wolf’s case is a clear indication of the need to strike a balance between Native American Medicine and western medicine. Both approaches if integrated in the treatment of Mr. Wolf could provide results that could prove worth counting on to Mr. Wolf, his family, wife, and the community.
The health care provider needs to familiarize self with Native traditional medicine and identify and appreciate the role played by traditional healers. The health provider should identify the link between religion and medicine in the spiritual context. Once the link is established and the patients’ preferences have been identified, the health provider can proceed to establish an effective clinician patient relationship.
According to Chrisman (2006-2008, p.1) the relationship between the heath provider-patient and the patient will enable the health provider to take control of the patient and his family. This will enable the health provider to avoid conflicts between the two treatment approaches.
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In addition to that, the health provider should be conversant with the health benefits associated with the use of Native American medicine and modern medicine and strike a balance between the two. Once the health provider has been equipped with the right information, the health provider can proceed to provide the education integrating western medicine with Native American Medicine in the process.
The health provider should identify the leading cause of Mr. Wolf’s disease in light of his income and community (Chrisman 2006-2008, p. 1). According to the health care’s work plan, there must be demonstrable respect for the traditions of Mr. Wolf, his family and community. The health provider should further identify the language Mr. Wolf, his wife, family, and community use and stress on the importance of non-verbal communication.
In the process of identifying Mr. Wolf’s problems, the health provider should constantly avoid intense eye contact with Mr. Wolf, his wife, family member, or community member. In addition to that, the instructive health care provider should maintain a light touch when greeting any of the community members and use an even voice when communicating with the patient.
The health care provider should look for ways of supporting their practices, look for ways of fitting the patient into his health model by maintaining traditional values, showing genuine respect for their cause and involving family, tribal, and other as part of the healing process (Taylor, 2006, p. 13).
Many cultures of the world embrace traditional healing as an alternative to western medicine. This is the case with American Native tribes. However, traditional healing and modern medicine should be integrated in addressing the health needs of traditional communities such as the AI community despite the differences that exist between these approaches.
Broome, B. & Broome, R. (2007). Culture and Diversity Issues. Native Americans: Traditional Healing. Urologic Nursing. 27(2), 161-173.
Chrisman, L. (2006-2008). Native American Medicine II. Web.
Groce, N. (2006). Inside deaf culture. American Anthropologist,108(2), 430-431.
Taylor, S. (2006). Communicating Across Cultures. The British Journal of Administrative Management, June/July, 12-13.