Article

Reaching people through medical humanities: An initiative.

Department of Pathology, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi, India.
Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions 01/2011; 8:5. DOI: 10.3352/jeehp.2011.8.5
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Background & objectives: The field of medical education in our country remains deeply fragmented and polarised between the biomedical technical domains which are overrepresented and the humanitarian domains which are under-represented within the universe of medical pedagogy. To overcome this imbalance, we designed a module that integrates the two domains in a holistic biomedical and socio-cultural framework with the objective of providing unified field of learning experience to the undergraduate medical students attending rotatory clinical postings in a medical college in New Delhi, India. Methods: Undergraduate medical students of 6 th and 8 th semesters were enrolled in humanities based study module (HSM) on voluntary basis for a total duration of six months. During their compulsory rotatory medicine ward posting, they were introduced and exposed to learning bedside experience of HSM with various tools of art and literature in the form of poem, short narratives, paintings, sketches and group discussions to express their feelings about patients' sufferings. Students' feed-back was recorded through an anonymized questionnaire. Result: Of the 235 students, 223 (95%) enrolled themselves voluntarily and 94 per cent (210 of 223) of them completed the total six month duration of the study module. Seventy three per cent of the students found HSM effective in improving their affective motivational behavior, 82 per cent found it effective in motivating them to learn more about core medical subjects, and 85 per cent wanted its continuation as part of medical curriculum. Interpretation & conclusions: The positive response of the students towards the HSM was an indicator of the potential for integrating the module within the undergraduate medical curriculum.
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    ABSTRACT: Medical humanities (MH) have been described as using subjects traditionally known as the humanities for specific purposes in medical education. Learning MH provides a number of advantages to medical stu-dents. I have been involved in facilitating MH sessions for over seven years. MH modules are still not com-mon in South Asia. There are various challenges in initiating a MH module in a medical school in south Asia. MH modules should be driven by the energy and creativity of facilitators in each medical school, should use small group learning strategies and be fun. Recently there has been a lot of debate and discussion in South Asia about the medical humani-ties. The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics and other publications reg-ularly publish articles related to the medical humanities (MH) and recently a new publication dealing predominantly with MH called Re-search and Humanities in Medical Education (RHIME) (www.rhime.in) has been started. MH has been discussed at various fora and there are a number of medical educators keen to intro-duce MH in medical education. Dr Radha Ramaswamy and her team from the Centre for Community Dialogue and Change (www.ccdc.in) have been regu-larly conducting workshops on theatre of the oppressed in various institutions in India and abroad. I remember when I first got in-terested in MH in early 2007 and decided to develop and implement a curriculum innovation project (CIP) for students at Pokhara, Ne-pal as part of a Foundation for Ad-vancement of International Medi-cal Education and Research (FAIMER) fellowship in health professions education the subject was still novel and not many knew about MH. I will start this article by examining what are the medical humanities. WHAT ARE THE MEDICAL HUMANITIES? Like I had mentioned in my book chapter on MH1 (1) there is no widely accepted definition of what are the medical humanities. The definition which is most widely ac-cepted is that provided by Dr Deb-orah Kirklin from the United King-dom (UK) who defined MH as 'an interdisciplinary, and increasingly international endeavor that draws on the creative and intellectual strengths of diverse disciplines, in-cluding literature, art, creative writing, drama, film, music, phi-losophy, ethical decision making, anthropology and history in pur-suit of medical educational goals.' (2) Another authority on MH had defined it as subjects like his-tory, philosophy, literature, ethics, anthropology, sociology, theology, psychology and others which ex-plore the world as it appears from the viewpoint of frail, flesh-bound human experience. (3) MH may not fit into the traditional boundaries of subjects and disciplines but is a perspective whose concern is what it means to be fully human. (4) MH programs were initiated in the United States (US), United King-dom (UK), Europe and other de-veloped nations as a response to the domination of science in medi-cine but has become increasingly
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