Illuminating the path: what literature can teach doctors about death and dying.

King's College, London, United Kingdom.
Palliative and Supportive Care (Impact Factor: 0.98). 12/2009; 7(4):521-6. DOI: 10.1017/S147895150999054X
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: This is a commentary in which a fourth-year medical student argues for the relevance of the arts and humanities and the need to sustain medical students' exposure to these through the medical curriculum. She writes that the point of incorporating the visual arts, literature, music, and other arts into the curriculum is not necessarily to "teach" professionalism but, rather, to offer students a viable, lifelong tool to reorient themselves as they move along in their training. The advantages that the humanities offer are multifactorial: They offer a space for discussion about topics such as death and dying-and coping with dying patients-such that students can feel safe and objective in sharing thoughts; they remind students of the patient experience; they eloquently distill muddy feelings into nuanced words; and they serve as an anchoring point for a state of mind that nurtures reflection over the disdain encouraged by the "hidden curriculum" of the wards. The author closes the commentary with excerpts from literature.
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