Providing context for a medical school basic science curriculum: The importance of the humanities

Britta M. Thompson, Jerry B. Vannatta, Laura E. Scobey, Mark Fergeson, Sheila M. Crow, Donald Bogan, Mary Zoe Baker, Mary Kay Gumerlock, Steve Orwig, Philip Minor, Hal Scofield, Andy Sullivan, Ernesto Sanchez, Sara Tracy, Humanities Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: To increase students understanding of what it means to be a physician and engage in the everyday practice of medicine, a humanities program was implemented into the preclinical curriculum of the medical school curriculum. The purpose of our study was to determine how medical students views of being a doctor evolved after participating in a required humanities course.Methods: Medical students completing a 16-clock hour humanities course from 10 courses were asked to respond to an open-ended reflection question regarding changes, if any, of their views of being a doctor. The constant comparative method was used for coding; triangulation and a variety of techniques were used to provide evidence of validity of the analysis.Results: A majority of first- and second-year medical students (rr = 70%) replied, resulting in 100 pages of text. A meta-theme of Contextualizing the Purpose of Medicine and three subthemes: the importance of Treating Patients Rather than a Disease, Understanding Observation Skills are Important, and Recognizing that Doctors are Fallible emerged from the data.Conclusions: Results suggest that requiring humanities as part of the required preclinical curriculum can have a positive influence on medical students and act as a bridge to contextualize the purpose of medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalMedical teacher
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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