Things You Never Knew About Healthcare

There is a lot of talk about healthcare in popular culture at present. It is, you could say, a major feature of the zeitgeist, especially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic necessitated such an intense focus on illness, treatment, the spread of disease, and the healthcare systems that treat it. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals were working 24/7 under extremely stressful conditions in order to ensure that those with the virus were treated safely while minimally infecting others. That was in addition to their existing work treating all the other illnesses and injuries common to hospitals and healthcare centers on a daily basis!

What’s more, for the past few decades, there has been a constant stream of content on our screens that features doctors, nurses, or themes of healthcare generally. Notable television shows like Scrubs, Nurse Jackie, ER, and, of course, Grey’s Anatomy are all exceedingly popular and all feature nurses and doctors working together in hospitals. Certain films and books also feature the medical world prominently, which helps fix the realm of healthcare firmly in the collective imaginary.

However, although these portrayals of the world of healthcare may be popular with viewers and readers all over the world, the realm of healthcare can, in reality, differ quite significantly from the screen or the page. The medical profession – whether it be nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, X-ray technicians, or any other healthcare specialists – is often fraught with difficulty, complications and errors, medical mysteries, and absolute miracles. The history of healthcare reflects the complexity of the practice and is littered with surprising facts and interesting tales, too.

In a culture that is quite obsessed with the idea of healthcare, it is always interesting to learn some surprising facts about the field and how it differs in various places and at various times throughout history. Here are a few things you probably never knew about the medical field, the institutions that have upheld it, and the people who work in it!

Nursing Is What Keeps the Medical World Running

Most of what we see of the healthcare system – on TV or in films – presents doctors as the stars of the scenarios. Think of the emphasis we place on a character like Meredith Grey, for example! In the real world, however, nurses are at the center of nearly everything that happens in a healthcare environment. From the beginning of the day, when they are checking how each patient has progressed, through the night to the early hours of the morning, when people are coming in their pajamas to the emergency room, nurses are responsible for keeping the show running. 

This is especially impressive when you consider how little training many nurses have in comparison to doctors. While to practice medicine as a doctor, you have to study for a minimum of six years (and more often eight or nine), nurses can become fully trained through some intensive programs in only two years – click here to learn more. While this may seem like a rather short amount of time, these courses are intensive and nurses learn so much on the job through their varied and diverse tasks with patients, other nurses, and doctors throughout the day!

Medical Practices Are Locally Specific

Many people assume that healthcare is a universal system based on globally accepted practices and methods, but this is very much not the case. Depending on where you live, the routine health care that you can expect to receive will be extremely different. To begin with, if you are only accustomed to the American system of healthcare, you might be surprised to learn that there are many countries in the world – Canada, for example, and the United Kingdom – that offer free healthcare to anyone who needs it. Most countries with this universal healthcare developed it after the end of the Second World War, when there was a pronounced feeling that people needed to take care of each other. 

Even weirder, there are places where the interaction between patients and doctors is completely different from the way it is in the USA. In Germany, for example, it isn’t uncommon for doctors to prescribe massages as a medical treatment for their patients. What’s more, in Japan, you can ‘pop in’ to see your doctor whenever – without an appointment!

Global Life Expectancy Is Getting Higher and Higher

The World Health Organization (WHO) – a body responsible for keeping track of the general health of the global population, as well as the state of healthcare systems in different countries around the world – has published data that indicates that the amount of time a person can expect to live on average rose five whole years between 2000 and 2015. That’s a pretty astounding statistic! 

There’s no exact reason for why this might be, but it probably has to do with the growth of medical technology, the fact that many places internationally are newly prioritizing the health of humans (and, in particular, the health of children and the elderly), and the fact that there has been an emphasis in many education systems that now teach health and wellbeing as a part of the curriculum, meaning people are growing up with a better awareness of what their bodies need to function properly. 

However, not everywhere is benefitting from these changes. There are still places in the world where life expectancy is low, and this is often tied to a lack of healthcare resources, education, or a general lack of money to support the wellbeing of a population. In low-income countries, one in every 41 women is expected to die giving birth to a child, according to WHO.

Though it is frustrating to have such inconsistencies in healthcare systems around the world, it is still fascinating to consider how much this field has changed and is changing throughout our time on this earth as a species. As we progress, so does the wild world of healthcare. Who knows what developments are yet to come?


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Written by Virily Editor

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