What patients want from anesthesia physicians is evidence of both personal concern and scientific expertise.
In his influential 1959 lecture, and later published book, “The Two Cultures,” by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow, he stated, “the intellectual life of the whole of western society was split into two cultures – namely the sciences and the humanities – and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems.”
About the practice of adequate preparation to manage the modern scientific world, Snow said, “German and American schools sought to prepare their citizens equally in the sciences and humanities, and better scientific teaching enabled these countries’ rulers to compete more effectively in a scientific age.”
Alan Bleakley, author and Professor of Medical Education and Medical Humanities at the newly formed (2013) Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine is a driving force of the international movement to establish the medical humanities as a core and integrated provision in the medical curriculum. In his book, “Medical Humanities and Medical Education: How the medical humanities can shape better doctors,” Bleakley proposes a model that requires collaboration between patients, artists, humanities scholars, doctors and other health professionals, in developing medical students’ sensibility (clinical acumen based on close noticing) and sensitivity (ethical, professional and humane practice).
In particular, his book focuses upon how medical humanities input into the curriculum can help to shape the identities of medical students as future doctors who are humane, caring, expressive and creative – whose work will be technically sound but considerably enhanced by their abilities to communicate well with patients and colleagues, to empathize, to be adaptive and innovative, and to act as ‘medical citizens’ in shaping a future medical culture as a model democracy where social justice is a key aspect of medicine.
Properly engaging in discussions about medical science with patients of our very diverse society will help provide comfort and ensure that everyone better understands and sees science as an integral part of a healthy culture. In line with the goals of anesthesia medical groups in northern California, the results can foster better outcomes for patients, and also more personal fulfillment for physicians.
Snow, CP. The Two Cultures. Cambridge University Press, 1959.
Bleakley, A. Medical Humanities and Medical Education: How the medical humanities can shape better doctors. Published by Routledge, 2015.