A workshop on medical arts and humanities led by Sarah Gull of Cambridge:
The medical humanities cover a spectrum of activities, from the practice of the arts and humanities by those trained in medicine to more theoretical scholarship. Many of us participating in the workshop were from humanities backgrounds.
We were split into groups and asked three questions:
1. Which parts of the curriculum are susceptible to an arts and humanities approach?
It's hard to identify any part of the curriculum that could not benefit but among those thought most suitable for this sort of approach were ethics, clinical skills teaching, and communication skills. Writing is an important but neglected skill for doctors, and clinical skills generally can be enhanced by the practice of the arts
2. What are the constraints?
Time, we will answered, and other resources, and the packed curriculum (though introducing an arts and humanities approach need not necessarily require more time. merely adjustment), lack of leadership, money (though there are various funding sources: the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, NESTA, the Wellcome, the Nuffield Trust), scepticism from colleagues. How to assess work could be problematic (and whether it should be; there was a definite feeling that work needed to be assessed for reluctant students to think it important). The different jargons and argots spoken by different disciplines could be a barrier
3. What is to be done?
Persuade the sceptics, do more scholarship (sceptical colleagues may be persuaded by the growth of a corpus of methodologically-rigourous medical humanities literature), broaden selection and admissions procedures, enlist the support of the GMC, stress the advantages of MH teaching, how it can equip doctors for lifelong learning and dealing with change, complexity and uncertainty.The ability to have exchange with scholars in different subjects is a defining characteristic of a university, so the fact that undergraduate medical education takes place in higher education is an advantage.
I cannot finish the account of this workshop without mentioning the knitted gastrointestinal tract that Suzanne Hardy showed us, an excellent example of the integration of the arts and medicine . There's knitted DNA too