Health Sciences

Doctors standing in a circle, wearing masks, and peering down
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Health Sciences encompasses many different medical fields. Within this part of the book, we focus on how two of these fields can be framed within a social determinants of health lens, through chapters on Primary Care and Nursing, and Emergency Medicine. As you work through these chapters, you are encouraged to think about the fields of health and medicine as fundamentally being about ensuring human rights through health care equity. You are also encouraged to consider how health care and medical professionals can serve as points-of-contact for a population who may otherwise be difficult to reach.


Perhaps as you read this, you are considering undertaking a career in the Health Sciences, such as a Primary Care Physician, Emergency Nurse, or Emergency Physician. The chapters in this section are designed to help you think critically about some of the questions you may encounter in these fields of employment. Understanding homelessness will help you navigate situations and choices you have to make. Consider, for example, a scenario in which a man seeks medical care at a walk-in clinic for falling off a ladder at work. He admits to being intoxicated at the time and says he has lost both his employment and his housing as a result. He is seeking medication to treat the pain. As a Primary Care Physician, the choice you make will have implications for this man’s health and well-being. The choice not to treat him may result in an Emergency Room visit and potential hospitalization. If you are working in the Emergency Room, you will need to make the same choice. How do you provide this man the best possible care, without being influenced by potential bias?


Before you begin, pause to consider how you would respond in each of the roles of the scenario above. With the knowledge you currently have about homelessness in Canada, why do you think people who experience homelessness tend to have poor health? What could be done to improve their access to health care? In the scenario above, what is the best-case outcome and the worst-case outcome for the man who is seeking care?


You are encouraged to keep this scenario in your mind as you read through the next two chapters and ask yourself whether any of your responses change, or are reaffirmed, after learning more about what Health Sciences can teach us about homelessness in Canada.


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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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