Humanities and social sciences in medical education
Medicine has often been described as an art as well as a science, but until relatively recently it was presumed that the arts would be ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ in medical education. Enlightened approaches to modern curricula mean that humanities and social sciences are increasingly recognised as having a role in preparing medical students to be skilled, thoughtful and well-rounded practitioners. These fields of enquiry help medical students and practitioners be attuned to the human condition in all its variety and complexity. This applies not only to their understanding of the patient experience of health, illness and healthcare, but also to their own professional identity formation including their wellbeing through the development of skills such as reflection, awareness and resilience.
Engagement with the humanities and social science has multiple purposes. Research generated in these fields offer important insights to the contexts of scientific knowledge (for example, ‘How can healthcare be more patient-centred, ethical and empathic?’) Using arts-based pedagogies in medical education promotes students and educators to confront issues of uncertainty and ambiguity and acknowledge biases – issues that are very much in the forefront of modern medicine. Creative initiatives in education, such as using games in learning, can enhance the students’ experience and draw in engagement.