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Medicine

This spring students in the School of Medicine are being required to look beyond microscopes and lab results, thanks to a new Humanities and Medicine curriculum approved by the school’s educational policy committee.

School of Medicine launches medical humanities curriculum

This year students in the School of Medicine are being required to look beyond microscopes and lab results, thanks to a new Humanities and Medicine curriculum approved by the school’s educational policy committee.

According to Dean Edward Halperin, polls demonstrate that the American public is deeply distressed by the quality of their medical care. A recent national poll found that the two most frequent criticisms of doctors are "not getting to know me" or "not spending enough time with me."

He asks, "What happened of the ability of doctors to just talk to patients? What happened to humane qualities in medicine? What has happened to medical humanism?"

The school is tackling this problem by teaching young physicians the history of medicine, the medical narrative in literature, bioethics, medicine and art, and spirituality in medicine.

"We intend to elevate the level of discourse regarding humanism in medicine and train doctors who appreciate the importance of the humanistic touch in a world of highly technological medicine," says Halperin.

Doctors and a Patient

In addition to creating a dual degree program combining the M.D. with an M.A. in Bioethics and Medical Humanities, second year students are required to take a course on religion and medicine. Taught for the first time this January, the class explored clinical scenarios related to religion as a criterion for physician selection and referral, religion and the physician’s responsibility to sustain life, religious beliefs and the physician-patient relationship and religious symbols in physician dress and how those symbols relate to the physician’s role. Panelists were drawn from across UofL’s faculty, the Archdiocese of Louisville, the Baptist and Presbyterian theological seminaries and other members of the community’s clergy and private practice communities.

Fourth year students have the option of enrolling in "An Introduction to Medical History for Students of Medicine," which covers topics in medical history ranging from old age in the ancient world to twentieth century breakthroughs in medicine and "Literature and Medicine," which encourages students to consider medical narratives reflective of autobiographical writing about illness and the practice of medicine.

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