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Allegory of the Orchard
I was captivated by the narrative about the tale around the Allegory of the Orchard Tree. This narrative effectively portrays the impact of political factors on health, specifically socioeconomic position, educational attainment, employment opportunities, and social support systems. It highlights the detrimental effects of these factors on the health outcomes of specific minority populations (Dawes, 2020). This narrative also serves as a valuable life lesson, as the author effectively used the parallel between trees and soil to illustrate that the trees that received diligent care and attention yielded greater fruitfulness than those that were ignored (Satcher et al. Institute, 2021). The allegory of the orchard story demonstrates the negative impact of political determinants of health on the health outcomes of a collective of individuals. The statement underscores the frequency with which individuals fail to exert control over political factors that harm their well-being. The authors Sharma et al. (2018) state that the barrier symbolizes the diverse economic, political, and societal elements that hinder specific individuals from accessing adequate medical treatment. As mentioned earlier, potential factors contributing to the circumstances include socioeconomic disadvantage, inadequate public infrastructure, and limited access to insurance coverage. This story also underscores the heightened awareness of those living in poverty about the impact of political variables on their well-being (Barnish et al., 2018). The trees in the orchard do not compete with the trees found in the forest regarding access to sunshine, nutrients, and water resources. As a result, individuals are more likely to develop diseases and yield products of worse quality. The orchard’s trees are a metaphor for the patients whose health is damaged by political circumstances. The political health determinants are frequently out of control for certain patients, especially the effects that are felt most by the poor, as illustrated by the combination of issues like poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of insurance (Smith, 2020). The orchard also stands for the healthcare system. The orchard allegory is a potent reminder that enhancing everyone’s health requires addressing political health concerns (Barnish et al., 2018). It demonstrates how political health concerns adversely affect the health results of patient groups.
The author used this story to bring attention to the health inequality in the United States and how it affects our country’s overall health population. In the parable, the soil represented housing, and the fertilizer represented education (Dawes, 2020). I believe this story also opens a greater variety of discussion that would assist politicians in how information is disseminated among a specific group of people and putting systems in place to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity and accessibility to affordable, reliable healthcare.
Why Are You, As A Nurse, The Right Person to Become Politically Involved In Addressing These Determinants?
As a healthcare professional, I understand how political health factors influence the overall well-being of the individuals under my care. Political determinants of health are widely recognized as influential factors that affect the health of both people and populations, encompassing economic and social dimensions.
The essential requirements encompass the availability of financial resources, adequate housing, educational training, and work prospects (Kittelsen et al., 2019). Political issues may significantly impact the well-being of communities and individuals. Income is a politically salient factor that influences health outcomes. Individuals with lower earnings are more prone to poor health than those with greater incomes. The presence of limited availability of reasonably priced, superior healthcare, nutritious food, and adequate housing are a few elements that contribute to this issue (Kittelsen et al., 2019). Moreover, lower-income people are more prone to stress due to their engagement in physically demanding or hazardous occupations. Education is a significant political matter that influences public health. According to Sharma et al. (2018), individuals with higher levels of education tend to have more significant opportunities for accessing healthcare services. They are more inclined to get a job that offers higher wages. Moreover, those with higher levels of education have greater familiarity with making informed choices regarding healthy lifestyles and maintaining their overall well-being. Employment is a noteworthy political factor that influences health outcomes. Individuals who are gainfully employed have a higher probability of receiving a satisfactory income and being covered by health insurance than those without employment. Individuals in this group had convenient accessibility to healthcare services of superior quality, reducing their susceptibility to stress-related experiences. Housing is a significant political factor that influences an individual’s health. According to Smith (2020), those with access to high-quality housing are more prone to have positive health outcomes compared to those who do not have such access. Sufficient housing protects individuals against harmful substances such as mold and lead. Furthermore, it provides sanitary services and drinkable water (Barnish et al., 2018). Access to healthcare is a significant factor that influences an individual’s health. Individuals with adequate access to healthcare are more inclined to have better health outcomes than those without such access.
I believe nurses such as myself are the best individuals suitable to advocate for the equality and accessibility of health for all individuals because we are the ones who can bear witness to the effects of the determinants on their lives. Often in my nursing career, I ponder why a particular group would enter the hospital with uncontrollable diabetes and severe complications from ESRD. In my assessment and review of some of the patients, I could see how many would complain that they could afford to see their doctor, issues with transportation to their appointments, and even factors of lack of information or being misinformed about their health. These reasons have pushed me to become an advanced healthcare practitioner because I wanted to be better equipped to provide sound information to my patients and advocate for health promotion. I also wanted the platform to influence policies and initiatives in my healthcare organization. Overall, we, as nurses, are in the best position to influence policies that would shape the health of our society.
As a nurse, I often engage with patients, affording me a distinctive vantage point to comprehend the political factors that impact health. Nurses possess the necessary qualifications and expertise to advocate for the betterment of their patients. Consequently, nurses engaged in political activities can play a crucial role in safeguarding their patients’ health by mitigating any adverse impact of political issues (Kittelsen et al., 2019). Voting represents the most effective means through which nurses may actively engage in the realm of politics. Elected leaders utilize this platform to articulate their perspectives and influence voting decisions. Engaging in political activities through collaboration with groups that advocate for community and patient welfare represents an additional avenue for nurses to participate in politics (Barnish et al., 2018). Nurses have the potential to exert influence through active engagement in political processes and the act of advocating for transformative measures.
Political determinants of health play a complex and multifaceted role in contributing to health disparities for certain populations. The policies, governance structures, and power dynamics within a society that influence health outcomes and health disparities are referred to as political determinants of health (Barnish, 2018). The political determinants of health, as well as the obstacles and difficulties faced by underserved, disadvantaged, or marginalized individuals and communities, are discussed in The Allegory of the Orchard (Dawes, 2020). The metaphor encourages doctors and patient advocates in the medical industry to recognize, comprehend, analyze, and react to these components. The trees in the orchard stand in for people receiving medical treatment, while the surrounding fence represents the various political forces that have an impact on the general wellbeing of the public. The barrier’s presence hinders the trees’ ability to access essential resources, including sunlight, water, and nutrients, which hinders their ability to develop and maintain overall health (Dawes, 2020).
Why are you, as a nurse, the right person to become politically involved in addressing these determinants?
Through efforts to advocate for policy, nurses play a critical role in addressing social determinants of health (SDOH). The circumstances in which people are born, develop, live, work, and age that affect their health and well-being are known as social determinants of health (Daniel, 2018). As front-line healthcare providers, nurses are in a good position to comprehend and address these variables in order to improve the health outcomes for the entire community.
Clinicians and nurses are the ones who interact with patients and have access to information on their financial situation, living arrangements, educational opportunities, employment status, and even their mental health needs. With the help of this, they are able to enlighten patients on the significance of social determinants of health and give them the tools they need to take charge of their own health. Information on healthy living, local resources, and relevant support services are part of the services rendered. Due to their proximity, they may speak out in favor of laws that expand access to healthcare, ensuring that people in vulnerable situations can get the treatment they need regardless of their socioeconomic level. Additionally, as a result of their connections to the community, they are able to influence and include leaders, organizations, stakeholders, and members of the community in talks regarding issues pertaining to SDOH.
Clinicians can collaborate with patients and families to create care plans that are more comprehensive and take into account the social and economic backdrop. Addressing the stability of housing, transportation, and support systems can be part of this. Launching interventions to reduce health disparities can help improve the community’s health and health equality (Chelak, 2023). Nurses can participate in research projects that look at how SDOH affects health outcomes by conducting research and gathering data. This can support a stronger argument for changing policy and sway decision-makers. They are in a unique position as healthcare providers and advocates because of their multifaceted role in addressing social determinants of health through policy advocacy efforts.
Awareness of social determinants of health may not always translate into better health outcomes, but it is an important component of the physician’s role as an advocate for patients and a steward of medical care (Daniel, 2018). This position enables them to make a significant contribution to the creation of more equitable and healthy communities by influencing policies that address the underlying causes of ill health and wellbeing.
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts. Respond to at least two of your colleagues on two different days by supporting or expanding on the ideas identified by your colleague or sharing additional perspectives on the issue described by your colleague.
Dawes, D. E. (2020). The political determinants of health. Johns Hopkins University Press.
“Foreword (pp. ix–xi)
Chapter 1, “The Allegory of the Orchard: The Political Determinants of Health Inequalities” (pp. 1–17)
Porche, D. J. (2023). Health policy: Applications for nurses and other healthcare professionals (3rd ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Chapter 1, “Policy Overview” (pp.1–20)
Chapter 6, “Healthcare Systems” (pp. 81–92)
Walden University Oasis: Writing Center. (n.d.). Citations: Overview Links to an external site.. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/citations
Walden University Oasis: Writing Center. (n.d.). Common assignments: Discussion post Links to an external site.. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/assignments/discussionpost
Satcher Health Leadership Institute. (2021, April 19). The allegory of the orchard: The political determinants of health by Daniel E. Dawes Links to an external site. [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mux1c73fJ78
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutes.
Satcher Health Leadership Institute. (2021, April 19). The allegory of the orchard—part II: The political determinants of health by Daniel E. Dawes, part 2 Links to an external site. [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gTbPog_J9s
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 7 minutes.
Satcher Health Leadership Institute. (2021, February 2). The political determinants of health: Jessica’s story Links to an external site. [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmMutvgQIcU
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.