Sociology and nursing: one wouldn't normally associate the two subjects with each other. Sociology is academic and theoretical, while nursing is practical. Someone studying sociology at the university level is not very likely to take a career in nursing. But you may be surprised to know that there are an increasing amount of nurses and nursing programs that incorporate the theories of sociology as part of their practice and programs.
There are many reasons why one would need the services of a nurse, from chronic illness to physical injury. The job of the nurse goes beyond administering medicine, helping doctors and bandaging wounds, but caring for individuals. sociology examines the relationship between individuals and the community they live and work in, it is very useful in the nursing industry to help people adapt to their environment when faced with new physical and mental health issues. If one is sick or injured, their relationship to their environment can change varying degrees. It could limit their ability to work, alter their relationships with family and friends, or heighten the levels of pre-occupation and anxiety about the state of their health in ways they may not have been prepared for.
There are two kinds of sociological areas of thought that are related to the healthcare industry and are taught in nursing school: the sociology of health and the sociology of medicine.
Sociology of Health
This branch of sociology deals with the bigger picture of how society understands and deals with notions like life, health, illness and death. Our individual ways of making sense of these situations is often greatly influenced by how we, as a society, interpret and react in these cases. One of the main topics of sociology of health is the search and understanding of the causes of diseases. This pathological approach explores natural phenomena as well as the environmental impacts on our bodies, for example: over-crowded urban centres causing respiratory illness due to air pollution, or causing psychological alienation from mass anonymity. Another important theme explores the motivation for getting or avoiding treatment, and why certain kinds of medical aid are preferable over others. As a society, for example, we need to be aware of the limitations for resources for certain medicines, or the side-effects of treatments on large groups of people.
Sociology of Medicine
This branch of sociology may be more pertinent in a nursing program. Here, the specifics of medical institutions are examined and how they function within a community. It focuses on the relationships between medical professionals, like nurses and doctors, with patients and other professionals in the healthcare industry, like hospital administrators and pharmaceutical developers. Unlike the abstract study of life and death, medicinal sociology takes a micro look at the people and institutions of the healthcare industry in a practical way. For example, instead of studying how a society deals with disease, it will look at how a patient is experiencing his or her treatment.
Incorporating sociological studies into greater healthcare education means more rounded healthcare professionals. And this means better service and care for our communities.