Can Medical Humanities Take Root in Asia?
SHANKAR P R
Dr. P.Ravi Shankar, KIST Medical College P.O.Box 14142 Imadol, Lalitpur, Nepal. Phone: 0977-01-6916201 Fax: 00977-01-5201496. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical humanities are a diverse group of disciplines. Literature, arts, music, drama, films, bioethics, medical anthropology, philosophy of medicine, history of medicine and medical sociology has been included in the group of medical humanities.
Asia is a huge continent and has the largest number of medical schools in the world. Recently, many new medical schools have been opened, predominantly in the private sector. English is the language of instruction in many medical schools.
Medical Humanities, as a discipline, is most developed in the United States of America. Strong programs also exist in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. In Asia, the University of Tel Aviv in Israel conducts a course in “The philosophy of medicine”.
In the west, there has been strong support for Medical Humanities at an administrative level. A variety of methods are used to teach the subject, and learning is fun and is interesting. A number of journals publish articles related to Medical Humanities. Online journals and blogs make publishing easy, and online databases serve as a repository of material.
In Asia, the traditional hierarchical structure of the student-teacher relationship may be a problem towards widespread adoption of interactive, small-group learning. This is however, changing. English being the language of instruction, and lack of division of the medical curriculum into core areas and electives, may also be a problem. Interdisciplinary learning is not well developed. Voluntary modules offered to interested students can create a case for introduction of the humanities in the curriculum. The humanities will be helpful towards creating more ‘humane’ doctors.
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