The Clinical Pit Stop Jakita L. Jones Queens University of Charlotte



Societal understanding of health varies from one culture to another. Several factors such as gender, class, ethnicity, religion and even education determine our experience of reality. Health, illness, and disability can all be seen as socially created or defined. Some debate that friends, relatives, and even cultural backgrounds often influence a person’s view of a “symptom” worthy of the physician’s attention. In addition, images, places, and various spaces often formulate a reality of what “health” is for individuals. However, thorough observations and interpretations of objects and images within a particular space can provide insight and enlightenment of how realities are socially constructed for people within that environment. This paper will provide an in-depth description of how CVS MinuteClinic in Waxhaw, North Carolina has socially shaped our notions of health/illness. A critical examination and analysis of artifacts/text within CVS MinuteClinic will be explored and discussed to offer substantiation of how illnesses and diagnosis are constructed for patients who visit this type of healthcare unit. Description of the Clinical Pit Stop The visit to CVS MinuteClinic revealed some intriguing dynamics as it relates to societal conception of our health reality and convictions. The MinuteClinic was located in the back of CVS, where it was seemingly quiet with light instrumental jazz music playing over the intercom. While walking through the aisles, there was an excessive amount of advertising prompting potential patients to make a quick visit to the clinic for further medical assistance. There were at least three to four advertisements in every walkway. Once a prospective patient enters into the waiting area, they are greeted by a flat screen monitor that list minor illnesses, skin conditions, wellness exams, and vaccinations the MinuteClinic clinical physicians are able to administer. The space of the MinuteClinic was shaped parallel in the form of an assembly line, stretching



from one end of the store to other end. Within that space, patients were accommodated in such a way that after their 15-minute appointment, one is able to conveniently take 10 to 15 steps to visit the pharmacy if necessary to fill a medicine prescription given by the physician. The pharmacy is suitably situated next to the MinuteClinic and it consist of three windows, a “drop off” counter, a “consultation” window, and a “pick-up” area for patients to walk in a parallel direction for convenience and expediency. If patients left the clinic to proceed to the pharmacy, walking canes, and pill organizing containers were available for purchase at the check-out counter. Above, is a depiction of the operating space/text of the MinuteClinic. The space within CVS reserved for the MinuteClinic is positioned like a pit stop in a NASCAR race. A pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops in a pit during a race for refueling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above. The pit usually comprises a pit lane, which runs parallel to the start/finish straight and is connected at each end to the main track. During a scheduled pit stop, the team’s pit crew services the car as swiftly as possible, completing a number of different services. Likewise, the MinuteClinic has several characteristics of a pit stop that will further illuminate how this text has socially constructed several different realities of health for its prospective patients. Clinical Pit Stop Analysis The type of analogical illustration of the text aforementioned implies that the symptoms of a patient can be easily diagnosed and speedily treated, reducing symptoms to minor, nondetrimental issues. The name of the clinic itself and the menu of illnesses listed on the flat screen at the entry point cause patients to believe that all illnesses are quickly and easily identifiable and curable, just as changing tires on a race car. This causes one to deem our bodies as invincible, exempt from severe medical complications. The assembly line space of the MinuteClinic and



pharmacy directs one to devalue their bodies, casually reducing them to a piece of machinery or race car that only needs a pit stop for a swift repair or quick medicine reliever, never considering a complete detailed mechanical overhaul for a holistic evaluation. Therefore, it cultivates the idea that our bodies are race cars able to race on the track of “life” at maximum speed without giving ourselves quality attentiveness, and adequate recovery to remain a fit race contender on the track of “life”. Further, this pit stop perception encourages one to believe that all pain or symptoms are bad; yet pain could possibly offer an opportunity for a greater truth to be revealed of what is ailing a patient. For instance, if a patient mentions they have been experiencing shortness of breath, headaches, and dizziness, a doctor could simply prescribe a pill to alleviate the pain. However, more exploratory query from a physician could further reveal how the break-up of a marriage or death of a loved one has contributed to the slight trauma of a patient, ultimately leading to the start of the symptoms being experienced. Overall, those “bad” symptoms could lead to a deeper truth and possibly to a more holistic treatment approach, instead of a pit stop fixer-upper. The MinuteClinic offers a surface-based critique of a patient’s symptoms, leading patients to think their conditions are small and perhaps insignificant, when in fact a more severe dilemma could lie beneath the surface. Another artifact/text discovered in the MinuteClinic were medical identification bracelets, dog tags, necklaces, alarm charms for those patients who wanted to print or crave their health condition on a tag as a reminder to themselves and others of their illness. Moreover, the tag provides a brief summary of precautionary measures to take in the event the patient becomes unable to aid themselves. This is similar to NASCAR race vehicles being labeled and branded with sponsors and racecar number; hence the racing fans are able to locate and identify their favorite race car driver during the race at any given time. This type of text promotes patients to

Running Head: THE CLINICIAL PIT STOP wholly accept and embrace their condition as a way of life, robbing them of their authentic identity. One’s individuality is not solely defined by a particular health state, but by one’s


personality, core values, beliefs, and uniqueness. These name tags attempt to cultivate a sense of patient approval and union with their health status as a part of their reality. This allows the patient to accommodate the condition as permanent, instead of short-term. In addition, the selling of walking canes and medicine pill containers, further hinders the patient’s capacity from viewing their world beyond their health situation. Moreover, the “naming” of an illness promotes conformity and complacency within a patient’s life. Life and death are in the power of the words we speak and choose to believe, thus forming and shaping our world around us. Therefore, the more a patient says and believes they have heart disease, the more they will bear the characteristics and mannerisms of a heart disease patient, and others around them will begin to treat them as such. The medical identification tags do not help patients see their world outside of what might reside in their body. A medical condition is not a total indication of who a patient is as a person, yet these tags hold patients hostage to the confinements of the illness. Conclusion Each individual has the power to command and create their own reality within any given circumstance. People are the sum total of what they confess and believe daily. Our words, thoughts, and actions have the power to change, modify, and establish whatever reality one desires. Although societal forces make this difficult to achieve, it is imperative that individuals are able to closely read and recognize when a reality is being constructed and imposed upon them, and when they are constructing their own truth. If one is not able to determine this distinction, a person is in jeopardy of living the constructed reality of others, rather than their own.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful