Would humanities courses produce doctors who are more in tune with their patients’ needs?

What Doctors FeelBeyond the usual curriculum of science and math courses for pre-med students, would a few required courses in the humanities turn out doctors who are more in tune with their patients’ needs? In “Humanities for Science Majors,” published in the September 16th issue of Publishers Weekly, Dr. Danielle Ofri writes, “When I think about the ongoing debate about the value of humanities in higher education, I’m reminded that it’s not (just) about the dwindling number of English majors. It’s about the totality of students who enter the university gates and then branch out into society.” Ofri, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (Beacon), says that the “unexpected opportunity to steep in the humanities offered me ways to think and write about medicine that I doubt would have been accessible to me otherwise.”

When students in a particular major are working towards careers where they will hold lives in their hands, is there room for Shakespeare, Russian Literature, and Art History? And what value do the skills acquired in the humanities—creative and critical thinking, the importance of asking questions and listening to the answers, and insight into the human experience—add not only to their own lives but the lives of their patients?

What do you think? Should courses in the humanities be a required part of all medical school curriculums?

Read an excerpt from What Doctors Feel by clicking here.

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