Final Exam – due by Fri May 16 (noon)

by Prof. Hangen - May 7th, 2014

The exam is an embedded form, below. If you cannot see it, make sure you are logged in using your Worcester State email and password.

If you want to see it all on one screen – click here.

Journal #9 (Course Reflection Paper) Prompt

by Prof. Hangen - April 30th, 2014

Course Reflection Paper (due Fri 5/16) – 5% of final grade

For your last paper, please reflect on some or all of the following questions, in 500-700 words. It can be posted to the class journal like the others you’ve written for this course.

One of the course’s main learning outcomes was for you to “make sense of the complex system of health care and medical services delivery that we have in the United States… by breaking it down into constituent parts and understanding where, when and how each developed.” Do you feel you accomplished this? Why or why not?

In what areas (or topics or time periods) did you most strengthen your knowledge about health and sickness in past times?

What was most new/surprising/difficult for you in this class?

What scholarly tools (practices, techniques, strategies) did you develop this term to approach people, events and ideas of the past?

Which readings, class activities, or assignments contributed the most to your learning this term?

Which readings, class activities, or assignments did not contribute as much to your learning this term?

Below is a list of the topics/units for this course. Are there topics you think should be added to or dropped from the list?

History of Medicine since ancient times
Defining Disease over Time
Foucault’s “Medical gaze” concept
Social Healers in 18th century America
Health & Sickness in the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Social Impact of Epidemics (Smallpox as Case Study)
Health Care Reform

Specifically regarding this course as a hybrid class elective in the RN to BSN program, what advice do you have if it were to be offered again?

Last Unit: The American Health Care System

by Prof. Hangen - April 2nd, 2014

April 2 – Poster and Presentation “Conference Day” on your Disease Projects

Video we watched in class:

April 9 – (virtual class) Supremacy, and Hubris? Reading: Rutkow Ch 8-10. Disease Report is due (please email it). For a brief time in the mid-20th century, things looked very promising for the eradication of major transmissible diseases and for steady progress on extending the human lifespan. Science and medicine seemed to have triumphed over ignorance and disease. Were we fooling ourselves?? See, for example:

A (hilariously campy) British government 1964 film looking back on the 1940s discovery of penicillin and Jack Gibbon’s heart-lung machine in action (BBC Four)

April 16 – (virtual class) The American System (pre-Obamacare). Viewing: screen the 2007 film Sicko in its entirety (allow 2 hours), and read Stevens, “Health Care and Policy in the US” (PDF).
journal-cJournal Prompt #6. By class time on Wednesday, April 16, please post a 500-word journal response on Blackboard answering why there was so much resistance to a national health care system in the US, when it was adopted in so many other developed nations in the 20th century? Also, by the 2000s, what were the major failings of the health care system as highlighted by Michael Moore in his film? What did he think needed to be fixed? What accounts for the sense of urgency in Sicko?

April 23 (virtual class) Health Care System and Costs
. Reading/listening/viewing: Read “Why is American Health Care So Ridiculously Expensive” in The Atlantic of March 2013 (and check out a few of the graphs that are linked to in the story), and also listen to / take notes on the 1-hour “More is Less” episode of the public radio program This American Life, which originally aired in October 2009. You might also appreciate October’s cover story in MIT Technology Review, A Tale of Two Drugs.” And watch these two overviews of the American health care system:

journal-cJournal Prompt #7. By class time on Wednesday, April 23, please post a 500-word journal response about the current — and coming — changes in the US health care system. How does this look from your perspective as a health care provider?

Our last class will be a debate in person on April 30th, and preparing for the final exam. The instructions and resources are now posted under the “Debate” tab, above.

Discussion Questions for Part II of Pox (March 26)

by Prof. Hangen - March 19th, 2014

Use these questions to guide your 500-word journal entry due on Blackboard by March 26th, the date of our next “virtual class.” You DO NOT have to answer all questions!

4. “War is Health.”
At the beginning of the 20th century, how was military and American imperial expansion related to the origins, development and transformation of the “sanitary campaigns” in places that the US military had occupied? What were some of the legacies or achievements of those campaigns; at what cost were they achieved?
Of what causes did the majority of soldiers die during the War of 1898?

5. Stable and Lab
(see p. 171) In the fall of 1901, vaccination regulation was controversial. A few months later it was federal law. What happened?
Describe the process of vaccine manufacture in the early 1900s under the direction of the state boards of health. (How does it compare with today, by the way?)
What were some of the problems with this process, and what were the effects of tainted vaccine?
Why is the Biologics Control Act important?

6. Politics of Tight Spaces
Why were immigrants MORE likely than native-born Americans to be vaccinated at this time?
(see p. 240) Which powers of the state were especially contested when it came to vaccination?

7. The Antivaccinationists
Who was included under the anti-vaccinationist umbrella, and to what other causes and movements was the antivaccination movement connected?
(see p. 271) What were the dueling concepts of liberty at odds in the struggle over vaccination?
What lesson would you draw from the story of Immanuel Pfeiffer?

8. Speaking Law to Power
What was radical, unexpected, or significant about the court case Commonwealth v. Jacobson? (see p. 299) What was the core legal question in the case?
(see p. 308) How did the anti-vaccinationists understand compulsory vaccination as a fundamentally different public health measure?
(see p. 334-335) What have been some of the uses of the Jacobson ruling in the years since?

What did you learn from this book about how “police power” is important in medical history?
How does this book illustrate or connect to some of the principles or themes of the Progressive Era that we discussed in class?

Smallpox in America, Part I for Wed Mar 12 (in person)

by Prof. Hangen - March 8th, 2014


As we agreed, please read up through Chapter 3 of Willrich’s book Pox: An American History.

The slides we looked at in class:

290 BackgroundPOX Progressivism

Some discussion questions to guide your reading and thinking:

  • Consider the subtitle. How is this an “American history”? Is it, in some way, a history of America itself? Or of the era? Is this a “history of disease” book in the same way as the one you are reading for the Disease project? Where does Willrich locate the story – in the sick people, or the researchers, or the law, or somewhere else? Why does he begin the story in 1900, when smallpox is a very old disease?
  • How do race and gender intersect with the story of smallpox outbreaks at the turn of the 20th century?
  • One of Willrich’s claims is that smallpox “sparked one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century” (14). This is a surprising claim; why?
  • Explain the difference between smallpox variolation and vaccination.
  • Why didn’t the US go the route of compulsory vaccination laws, as in other developed industrial nations at the time?
  • How did communities, states and the federal government respond to “mild type” smallpox? Was Middlesboro, Kentucky, typical? What cultural factors made fighting smallpox in the South more challenging in these years?
  • Describe the work of health inspectors like Wertenbaker – what did they do, and not do? What kind of authority (moral, legal, jurisdictional) did they have?
  • What can you learn from these chapters about IDEAS of health and sickness at the time, or about the development of the American health care system?