New Directions – Introducing the Humanities into Health Care

By Rodger Charlton.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There have been many famous authors who were also doctors eg, Arthur Conan Doyle and Somerset Maughan. Somerset Maughan wrote, “I don’t know a better training for a writer than to spend some years in the medical profession.” It is often debated whether medicine is an art or a science, but a study of the humanities and developing skills in creative writing may lead to the training of a more holistic doctor. This paper describes a undergraduate teaching module in creative, critical and practical writing skills that is run for medical undergraduates and how it can enable them to write more effectively, to become skilled at critically appraising the written word, to communicate more articulately through the written word, to enhance skills in creative writing and submit assignments to demonstrate ability to write fiction as prose or poems. The paper also describes how students can improve their skills in scientific writing, eg, a paper or a chapter in a book and how they can communicate with patients more effectively through the use of information leaflets and writing directly by copying referral and clinic letters to them. The paper argues how the overall skills in writing by future doctors can be enhanced through a study of the humanities and that considerable satisfaction can be gained through writing and possibly being published. Teaching in what is called the ‘humanities’ is a rapidly growing area in medical education and can enable students to think more deeply and holistically about their contacts with patients. It is an opportunity for medical students to shine and to be creative and such teaching should be considered in medical undergraduate curriculums globally.

Keywords: Undergraduate, Medical Education, Humanities, Creative Writing

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.25-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 601.150KB).

Dr. Rodger Charlton

Associate Clinical Professor, Institute of Clinical Education, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, West Midlands, UK

Rodger Charlton qualified from Birmingham University in 1983 and then completed an MPhil thesis in Medical Ethics. Shortly afterwards he became a part-time Lecturer in General Practice at Nottingham University. In 1991-2, he was a visiting fellow at the University of Otago Medical School, New Zealand, researching into the perceived needs of undergraduates in palliative medicine education. This formed the basis of his MD thesis. In 1994 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in primary health care at the Postgraduate School of Medicine, Keele University. In September 2000 he was appointed as senior lecturer in continuing professional development at Warwick University and in January 2003 he became the Director of GP Undergraduate Medical Education at Warwick Medical School and is now working as the Co-Director and an Associate Clinical Professor. In November 2003 he was awarded a fellowship of the Society of Medical Writers (SOMW) of which he became the chairman in April 2004 for a year. He has just completed a further textbook entitled; Learning to Consult, for Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford. He has a particular interest in the humanities and runs a Special Studies Module at Warwick Medical School entitled; Creative, Critical & Practical Writing Skills in Medicine.


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