The Utilisation of Humanities Resources in Teaching the ‘Practice of Medicine’: Critical Thinking and Reflection in Medicine

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The next best thing to the clinical experience which is unavailable and inappropriate to the early years of medical education is medical drama in the form of humanities sources. Well-written short stories, plays and cinema which are often produced by gifted physicians and non-medical writers raise issues which are entirely appropriate for meaningful discussion in both small group teaching as well as to make a point in the lecture theatre environment. The learning objectives of interpretation, decision-making, personal reflection and critical thinking which are all fundamental to the practice of medicine are easily addressed in such an environment of teaching and learning. Students often surprisingly respond to the arts and humanities in medical education even if they have preconceived notions that they will be receiving a strictly scientific grounding in the basic sciences. Many welcome it as a diversion from the structured scientific manner of learning.


Keywords: Arts/Humanities, Medical Education, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Personal Reflection
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Dr. Peter Nelson

Deputy Director of Teaching, Senior Teaching Fellow, University of St Andrews
St Andrews, Scotland, UK

Practiced oral and maxillofacial surgery in USA and Canada during 1970's and 1980's.Teaching commitments part time with appointments at several teaching hospitals and University in Vancouver, B.C. Emigrated to UK and acquired 2 degress - one in Theology , the second an MBA as as well as a post-grad diploma in Information Management during the early 1990's. Obtained an academic post at University of St Andrews in 1995-96 in the Medical School in order to develop the Medical Ethics Teaching. Subsequently increased the teaching from a small portion of the core curriculum for medical students by incorporating Medical Humanities Teaching and this now runs throughouit all the years of the medical curriculum.

Ref: I08P0195