What is Medical Sociology?

Students often ask a lot of questions regarding medical sociology. Most of them want to know what it means to integrate sociology into the medical field and the advantages of doing so. Others want to know what it takes to pursue a career as a medical sociologist and the possible job opportunities. Here is a roundup of everything you need to know.

Definition

Medical sociology is simply the study of the effects of social and cultural factors on health and medicine. Specializing as a medical sociologist helps individuals view the healthcare system as a function of the society and serve it by examining and improving all its facets. It is a stepping stone towards greater career opportunities in the medical field.

Becoming a Medical Sociologist

A medical sociologist applies analytical and interpretive skills to help the healthcare facilities improve the conditions of patients and caregivers. This may be through conducting research on the social factors affecting healthcare, providing education to caregivers and working with people to prevent illnesses and speed up the recovery processes. He combines both medicinal and sociological aspects to offer effective solutions.

Educational Requirements

Individuals who want to become medical sociologists must have at least an undergraduate degree. They can choose a bachelor’s degree in sociology and specialize in the medical part of the program. A bachelor’s degree in sociology takes between three and four years to complete. A typical sociology degree program with a concentration in medicine has courses on theory and research, social health, health and environmental sciences, gender, aging, disability, social dynamics of health, and society and medicine. Those who wish to further their education can expect courses related to statistics and research, ethnicity and sexual health.

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A degree in sociology provides students with the skills necessary to weigh controversies and develop complex analyses of the social problems affecting healthcare systems. They are able to review these problems and provide thoughtful feedback on how to tackle them. They are also trained to convert research findings into policies and develop strategies on how to effectively implement them.

Career Opportunities

There are many career opportunities available for those who want to become medical sociologists. Undergraduates can go on to become community health workers, nurses or psychologists. Others can work as hospital administrators, policy analysts and human resource representatives. Individuals in these positions must apply their knowledge of social contexts to serve in a manner that reshapes the way the health facilities provide care to their patients.

Those who choose to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees can specialize as social heath scientists. They can help in researching and implementing new policies that improve the way healthcare systems work. Others can become university professors, write journals, publish books or do outside consulting jobs.

Most medical sociologists work in hospitals, mental healthcare facilities, senior homecare centers and nonprofit organizations. A few work for the government, universities and research organizations. They earn an average salary of $79,750 per year, which is quite impressive. The employment rate is expected to grow significantly, as the healthcare facilities continue to employ sociological frameworks in the provision of quality care.

Individuals who major in sociology with a concentration in medicine have an edge over their counterparts who choose to do pure sociology. The field of medicine has greater opportunities for growth and more lucrative salaries than any other career. Those who major in medical sociology can even go on to become nurses and doctors in the future.