Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Both Sides of the Brain - Promoting the Humanities for Medical Students

"The University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies group found that the cumulative dosage of pain
medication in milligrams per death due to HIV or cancer among the poorest 10% of countries was only 54mg compared to over 97,000mg per death due to HIV or cancer in the wealthiest 10% of countries"
This quote comes from the essay by Christopher J. de Boer that won the 2014 Robert D. Sparks Prize at the University of Iowa. The essay is a thought provoking work entitled The Price of Pain: Examining Global Inequality in Palliative Care and a Human Rights Response. (Here's a link to the essay if you'd like to read it) The Sparks Prize is one of several writing competitions available to medical students at that University of Iowa (Carver College), including a prize for short fiction and poetry. The 2014 creative writing competition winner was Cody Connor for a short story entitled The Universe Hates Entropy which you can read here along with poetry by the runners up.

The University of Iowa offers medical students a Humanities Distinction Track which seems very enlightened. They say on their website:
"The purpose of the Carver College of Medicine Humanities Distinction Track (HDT) is to encourage, support, and recognize medical students who pursue scholarship in ethics, writing, or the humanities. This track will promote students’ growth as professionals and also further the promotion of humanism in medicine."

This is a firm acknowledgement of the importance of the humanities in medical practice. What do we have in Australian medical schools that reflects that philosophy?

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