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December 24 , 2009

Medical Humanities and Medical Education

How the medical humanities can shape better doctors


The field of the medical humanities is developing rapidly, however, there has also been parallel concern from sceptics that the value of medical humanities educational interventions should be open to scrutiny and evidence. Just what is the impact of medical humanities provision upon the education of medical students? In an era of limited resources, is such provision worth the investment? This innovative text addresses these pressing questions, describes the contemporary territory comprising the medical humanities in medical education, and explains how this field may be developed as a key medical education component for the future.

Bleakley, a driving force of the international movement to establish the medical humanities as a core and integrated provision in the medical curriculum, proposes a model that requires collaboration between patients, artists, humanities scholars, doctors and other health professionals, in developing medical students’ sensibility (clinical acumen based on close noticing) and sensitivity (ethical, professional and humane practice). In particular, this text focuses upon how medical humanities input into the curriculum can help to shape the identities of medical students as future doctors who are humane, caring, expressive and creative – whose work will be technically sound but considerably enhanced by their abilities to communicate well with patients and colleagues, to empathise, to be adaptive and innovative, and to act as ‘medical citizens’ in shaping a future medical culture as a model democracy where social justice is a key aspect of medicine.

Making sense of the new wave of medical humanities in medical education scholarship that calls for a ‘critical medical humanities’, Medical Humanities and Medical Education incorporates a range of case studies and illustrative and practical examples to aid integrating medical humanities into the medical curriculum. It will be important reading for medical educators and others working with the medical education community, and all those interested in the medical humanities.

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