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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 296-297  

Humanities in medical education

Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Medical Education, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission13-Sep-2020
Date of Decision14-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication04-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Avinash Supe
Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_604_20

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How to cite this article:
Supe A. Humanities in medical education. Int J App Basic Med Res 2020;10:296-7

How to cite this URL:
Supe A. Humanities in medical education. Int J App Basic Med Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 10];10:296-7. Available from: https://www.ijabmr.org/text.asp?2020/10/4/296/297262

Editors: Dr. Rajiv Mahajan, Dr. Tejinder Singh

Publisher: CBS Publishers and Distributors Pvt Ltd, New Delhi

First edition: 2021

Price: Rs. 295/.

Pages: 154

Health professions practice is a complex interplay of knowledge, clinical skills and acumen, communication, attitude, and interprofessional behavior and is largely dependent on strong ethical values. India, as one of the major stakeholders toward the contribution of world's health care, offers a major share of health professionals across the globe. Hence, more so than ever, it needs a curriculum which is better aligned with health professional attributes that are locally relevant and globally adaptive. Realizing this gap in curriculum, the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2018 introduced AETCOM module to strike a balance between the five identified roles of an “Indian medical graduate (IMG)” namely, clinician, leader, and member of a health-care team; communicator; life-long learner; and professional, right from the 1st professional year of training. Humanities in medicine interweaves the values and art of medicine with the ever-growing science and should be the essential part of any medical curriculum.

This multiauthored book edited by Dr. Rajiv Mahajan and Dr. Tejinder Singh is an excellent effort in introducing the subject of humanities to health professions educators and learners. Editors of this book are leaders in the field of medical education and have authored many books in this field which are currently used all over the country and abroad.

This comprehensive Indian book on Humanities in Medicine covers all the important subjects in this area. This book gives a current and concise summary of all key topics with an emphasis on special topics that are not commonly discussed across the medical schools. This book is logically organized; is well written; and has readable chapters on reflections, creative writing, cine-education, and professionalism. The 17 chapters of this softcover book are organized in four sections. The book is unique and contains topics that are usually not discussed or emphasized in medical curriculum, such as altruism, medical sociology, cine-education, creative writing, arts, and reflections.

The first section introduces the history of humanities as well as the need of introducing humanities in the curriculum. In addition to the global scenario, the authors have specifically documented the growth of humanities in India and Asia. This section also emphasizes the need for various components of humanities such as leadership skills, empathy, and self-reflection in the making of a good doctor. It also concisely describes ten top-ranked attributes of a good doctor and links it to five roles of IMG namely clinician, communicator, leader, professional, and life-long learner.

The second section deals with focus areas, concepts, and philosophies behind humanities and includes well-written chapters on professionalism, communication skills, attitudes, empathy, and altruism. I especially liked the chapter on “medical sociology” as it gave sociological perspectives relevant to medical practice in a very structured manner and gave insight into the cultural and social aspects interwoven with medical curriculum.

Section three contains innovative teaching–learning methodologies that are uncommon in the current health profession education but are necessary to promote art and science along with humanities in medicine. There is a chapter on cine-meducation with examples from Indian as well as international films. The author has done commendable job by adding messages from each of these examples that will facilitate faculty and students. Role plays and case studies are used in medical schools, but their special emphasis in humanities has been well described. There are other chapters on creative writing – chaos to process and values as well as on artwork and cartoons. The chapter on “creative writing” mentions a wide range of tools from poetry to medical memoirs. The author has emphasized the need for creative writing to actively involve medical students in clinical learning and mitigate stress. A very important point that is necessary in today's time. There is a very interesting chapter on “theater and forum theater” that hones competencies in affective and communication domains because of its experiential nature. The other important chapter in this section is on reflections. This chapter brings the concept of reflections and reflective narratives as educational tools and stresses its importance in professional practice. The strength of this chapter is in its narrative-style case examples and discussion on its assessment. Reflections are not commonly used in the Indian scenario and hope that this chapter will help many to adopt it in their schools as a routine practice.

A special mention must be made regarding the last section that specifically deals with implementation and assessment. In the recently introduced competency-based curriculum, the MCI has emphasized the importance of attitudes, ethics, and communication through the AETCOM module. It also has supported the concept of medical humanities in one of the booklets published in 2019. This book is complementary for the implementation of the new MCI curriculum and will be of immense guide to all teachers and students in understanding these concepts. The last section clearly delineates the opportunities and challenges as well as force field analysis for change management in introducing the concepts of medical humanities in the new Competency Based Medical Education (CBME) curriculum. This section also provides a structured curriculum for medical humanities in the existing curriculum. However, considering that humanities in medicine is beyond the regular curriculum, one must also consider activities. It also suggests phase-wise sub-competencies integrating it with the AETCOM module which the implementing authorities can review and consider. Lastly, it suggests assessment guidelines for medical humanities – a difficult topic that could have been touched more deeply with examples.

Every chapter is crisp and enriched by appropriate figures and charts that makes reading this book a pleasurable experience. Each article is well referenced and provides ample materials for further reading. The one deficit is the avoidable redundancy between some chapters. The editors need to be congratulated for this task of marshaling and editing contributions from 16 authors from all over the country. This textbook on “Humanities in Medical Education” brings together the national group of contributors and all experts in their respective fields, to provide a text for both teachers and learners. Overall, as stated by the authors themselves, this compendium on humanities will provide food for thought to the readers. Though this is intended for teachers and students, this will be a good reading for a practitioner. It is written at a senior level of comprehension and is illustrated with diagrams and charts. The strength of this book is the chapters written that are educationally relevant and practical in nature. If there is a drawback to the textbook, it is that there could have been more case examples and practical tips in addition to conceptual frameworks. However, because of its authoritative and diverse content, the book would be of considerable interest and benefit to all teachers and students not in India but all over the globe.

Lastly, I would like to again congratulate the editors and the whole team for this excellent piece of work that would ultimately lead to better patient care. Humanities help you to cope better with practicalities.

I would like to end with a quote, “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability” – Sir William Osler.


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