Ethics journal explores the humanities in medical education
This month’s issue of Virtual Mentor, the AMA’s online ethics journal, explores what “medical humanities” comprises. Contributing authors argue that medical education is incomplete without it.
The famous Flexner Report of 1911 called for a lab- and clinic-heavy curriculum for physician training. More than 60 years later, George Engel, MD, a psychiatrist, recommended that the psychological and social contributors to illness be addressed in medical school in his “biopsychosocial” model. Soon, ethics and professionalism were introduced to the formal curriculum. Educators are now recommending that the humanities be part of every physician’s education.
Highlights from the August issue include:
- “Do future bench researchers need humanities courses in medical school?” Medical student Rimma Osipov points out that, through the humanities, students more oriented to the hard sciences become aware that this perspective is not the only way to see health, illness and healing.
- “Tangles: An illness narrative in graphic form.” Author Sarah Leavitt wrote her graphic memoir about her experience with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease to convey the multiple layers of a single experience. With both text and image at her disposal, she uses one to enhance the other or create contradictions and juxtapositions that were jarring or darkly humorous.
- “A complete medical education includes the arts and humanities.” David S. Jones, MD, PhD, asks “Why must we prove that the arts and humanities make better doctors?”