THE BLOG

The Practice of Medicine - Not Simply a Science But Now an Art

02/09/2013 16:53 BST | Updated 31/10/2013 09:12 GMT

My arrival into medical school back in 2001 launched me, not only into a world of systemic disease, but rather a world of information overload. Verbose medical texts were seen scattered across my room with my typical schedule spent inhaling the multitude of odours as expressed by a cohort of 200 plus students during lecture hall gatherings.

Fresher scents came in the form of small knit tutorial groupings where the flavour of Problem Based Learning was heavily cemented or what we often referred to as, 'Do It Yourself Medicine.' Patient glimpses took place mid-way through our learning as we huddled around the bedside, eyes fixed on the victim in front us as we endured a Sergeant Hartman like tirade of questioning on concepts unbeknown to us. The end result, defeated and deflated, only to rise the next day to face the fight again in the hope of placation.

With the shoe now firmly on the other foot, I have witnessed first-hand the expeditious change in delivery of information overload. Such sexy new formats come courtesy of E and M learning in addition to Team Based approaches. The revolutionary Khan Academy has even impacted on the job specifications of the teacher themselves with Shrove Tuesday being the backbone for classes, 'flipped' to help foster a more interactive, thought engaging process when it comes to pedagogy. And with the introduction of massive open online courses or MOOC's, going to class may become as common as sending a 'wish you were here' postcard on vacation. It just simply isn't going to happen.

Not only have teaching styles changed significantly for medical students, but curriculum interventions are such that across the globe the humanities are being bill boarded arcanely into the training trajectory.

Dr Edmund Pellegrino, synonymous with the concept, refers to the merits of medical humanities as vehicles for teaching the liberal arts, conveying a special kind of knowledge that liberates the imagination and acts as sources of delectation for the human spirit.

Dr Sheila Naghshineh and colleagues at Harvard Medical School have demonstrated, through the use of workshops integrating fine arts with physical examination skills and diagnosis, enhanced visual literacy which can serve to benefit one's observational acumen and diagnostic capabilities.

Of course there is likely to be dissidence among the medical profession remonstrating the relevance of the humanities in medical training.

Sir Ken Robinson recently spoke about creativity being as important in education as literacy. But that current education systems, predicated on the idea of academic ability, are in essence educating people out of their creative capacities with a standard subject hierarchy, where the arts for example rest firmly at the bottom. He commented how our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth; for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us.