Happy Monday! First I just want to say, Happy Anniversary! I didn’t even think about it last week, but it was the one year anniversary of this blog. That’s always exciting. I want to thank everyone who’s stuck with me through the year and I look forward to 2017 like you wouldn’t believe. 😀 As I’m sure we all are.
Today we’re going to dive into part 12 of World Building: Medicine.
How technologically advanced is your civilization? And remember that technology isn’t a blanket affect on the world. Different countries and cultures will have varying degrees of advancement based on what’s available to them and their own wealth. Other technology, such as electricity and running water, can greatly affect how and when medicine is made and administered as well as sanitary conditions. Do they have microscopes and computers? What kind of tests can they run? How do they diagnose patients?
What laws are there to protect your citizens and those who administer treatment and medicine? Are there malpractice laws? Are there laws completely protecting doctors and any abuses they may practice on others? Are there caps on how much a customer can be charged for treatment? Are there minimums? Does the law protect the people from scammers?
Laws and ethics usually tie in together, but ethics can also be determined on a personal basis. While one doctor may not have a problem with experimenting on children another will refuse. And of course there’s always the ethic of breaking the law as well.
Is there a conglomerate group of doctors or shaman who determine the laws and ethics? Who makes the big decisions as to what’s accepted and what’s not? Who decides if a scientist’s discovery will be added to the regimen of lawful treatments? Who gives their stamp of approval on medicine? Are any of them corrupt? Are they paid off by companies or families of wealthy doctors to say their way is the best? To say their pills are the best? Do religious or other government officials who have no education in health care have any say? Do they ever turn down treatments because of their personal beliefs?
If your world has a living involved deity then consider what sort of divine interventions may take place. What rituals or prayers will invoke that deity to act? What other factors would the deity consider before answering prayers? Will they look at the person’s moral fiber or something else? How do they determine who is saved and who isn’t? Do they save nonbelievers?
What is the physical medicine of your world like? Is it like ours where things come in the form of shots, pills, or liquid drinks? Do they have potions brewed? Do they use herbs to create salves instead of gauze and antibiotic cream? Are there tonics made from strange bodyparts or hard to find mold in a cavern at the center of the planet? Also, keep in mind any interactions between medicines.
Consider what medicines, supplements, and home remedies that a large portion (not necessarily majority) of the population believes to be true that don’t work. What claims are made about these items? Do they cause harm? Are they placebo? What false medicines are mainstream in your society and how do they affect overall health? Who are the practitioners? Scammers? Or people who truly believe it works and are doing what they think is best? Who benefits from selling these concoctions and beliefs?
Where are the places your people go to for care? Is there a hospital? A healer’s hut? Do the doctors go to the patient? In addition, what are the places your scientists of medicine study in? Make discoveries in? Are there labs? Clean rooms? Their bedroom above an inn? Are there places governed by the local authority that people know they can go to and be properly cared for? What are the reputations of these places and how did they get them?
Where do those who administer treatment and medicine learn their craft? Are there schools and universities? Are there apprenticeships? Are there rivalries between these places? Competition?
There are varying degrees of those involved in the care of our health. You have scientists in a lab making discoveries as well as the general practitioners who administer the advice and medicines those scientists discover. The information taught at schools of medicine has to come from somewhere. Think of how detailed the information your health field professionals have is. If your story is in an archaic or fantasy age then perhaps instead of a clean room in a lab your scientists are those who work in their own study with beakers. Does your culture know about DNA? Do they know all of the “ologies”? (Yes, I totally made that word up) What I mean is, do they know hematology for example? If they do, how? What are the means in which those were discovered? How advanced is your medicinal science? This is in direct relation to technology.
The Face Of Medicine
Who are the people involved? Are there doctors? Medicine men? Healers living in a hut on the edge of the village? Who are the ones your people see when they have an ailment? What have those individuals gone through or proven to earn those titles? A doctor of course went through years of schooling to get her title, as some shaman or those similar may have been born into the role. Are they revered or feared? Who helps them? Do they have nurses? Assistants? Perhaps a doctor’s husband is her helper. In addition, consider specialists. Even if it’s a broad spectrum you can still have specialists in an archaic society. It makes sense that some doctors know more about certain parts of the body than others even if there’s no official name for it.
Consider legacy families of medicine, such as the shaman example above, as well as celebrities in the world of health care. Does the king have a personal physician who is well known? Did someone make a life changing discovery that changed the quality of life for your people? Who is well known in this field? Consider those who would be well known to the general populace as well as those who would be well known only by those in the field.
If applicable, never forget magic! Who can cast this magic? Can anyone with magical ability do so or does it too need to be learned? Are there those who are more naturally gifted in medicinal magic? Do they have their own schools and apprenticeships? Are they the only ones who heal wounds and cure the sick or can anyone? Are magic healers at odds with those who use physical remedies and tonics? Is it possible their magic is provided by a higher power?
How does the economy affect medicine? Are there any establishments that are exclusively for those who live below the poverty level such as charities? Are there ERs or similar clinics where someone can’t be refused because of inability to pay? Can only the wealthy afford health care? This is also affected by what type of government your people have. Is there a single payer health care system and so everyone has equal treatment? Do your people barter for treatment? Do they exchange gold? Is there any form of insurance? Do profits and big companies or powerful families affect what’s available? What’s supply and demand look like for life saving medicine? Does an overnight stay in a hospital cost your people a small fortune? Do people die due to lack of money to pay for life saving treatment?
Quality of Life
Health can greatly affect quality of life. Consider any disabilities your people may have and how they’re dealt with. Consider the availabiltiy of medicine and longevity. For example, the life expectancy for women in the US is 81 years of age and for men 76 years of age compared to the average life expectancy of 54 and 49 years of age in 1916. Due to many factors including access to running water, better sanitary conditions, and medicine this isn’t surprising.
Until next time…
There is, as always, more to medicine than listed here. Hopefully this will get you thinking on the right track to continue fleshing out your world and the people in it. I have more world building blogs in the works and I look forward to seeing you in the new year. The next blog will be Janurary 2, 2017! I’ll be taking a two week vacation to enjoy friends, family, and the holidays (as well as meet a couple of deadlines). Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Dragon Bloode: Covet is available everywhere ebooks are sold.
Added 01/09/2016 World Building Part 12: Names