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Michael Gordon, MD, MSc, FRCPC,

Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Member, Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.


Abstract: In the earliest writing of stories, physicians and illnesses often played an important role. Some of the renowned scholars in the Jewish tradition, like Moses Maimonides was a philosopher, a prolific writer, and a physician. A few of the world-famous authors include: François Rabelais (1483-1553), Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) and the contemporary Abraham Verghese (1955-), to name just a few. The connection between medicine and the humanities appears to have diminished in some domains due partially to the focus on the scientific advances in medicine and the diminished focus on the humanities, especially in higher education. This I suggest, is a problem for medicine.
Key Words: medical humanities, education, medical students.
The exposure to the humanities in the education of physicians provides an expanded framework of understanding the person beneath the patient.
Education in the humanities should be a prerequisite or even a component of a more humanistic medical education.
As part of connecting to new patients it is important to find out who they are before asking why they are in your office or hospital bed.
Explore as many ways to connect to the patient on their life’s experiences, cultures or backgrounds in order to promote a therapeutic relationship of trust.
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