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Are the humanities important to scientists?

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Do you think the humanities are important to science? Personally, I'd say that they are important to sciences that deal with people. For medicine, I think the humanities are crucial. It is important that physicians learn how to connect with humans in a very real sense, and have a greater understanding of the human phenomenon. Many US medical schools are starting to add literature and art to the rigid core science schedule of first and second year medical students.

 

Do you believe the humanities are important to all sciences?

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I definitely believe they are important. In addition to studying the sciences, I make sure that they are balanced with philosophy and english. Otherwise I would probably go insane. Look at Aristotle, one of the early great scientists and probably the greatest philosopher. He was very well-rounded in the subjects he studied and wrote about. Every subject he studied influenced the other subjects.

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Important to individuals, maybe, but not essential for the subjects.

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I would not even apply to any medical school that required literature/art classes. While humanities are important, they should be pursued separately from academics. There is extremely little benefit in taking those couses as required for a degree, the focus of academics should be whatever field you're interested in.

 

I'd much rather have an excellent surgeon who knows jack about literature than a mediocre surgeon who is a great philosopher.

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Blike: "For medicine, I think the humanities are crucial. It is important that physicians learn how to connect with humans in a very real sense, and have a greater understanding of the human phenomenon."

 

Agreed, but am not sure the humanities will get you there

 

Have studied both (biology & ME studies, don't expect me to remember much about either) and take essentially the same approach to both. Apply the "clinical" approach to myself and others as well, something some have a hard time with if applied to them and do not seem to think possible if I apply it to myself

 

So I do not think the subject matter will influence the approach one takes, but is more likely one's overall approach to the world influences one's choice of subject matter or interests

 

I tend to think the humanities could benefit from the sciences and a bit more rigor, but I may be a bit biased in the matter as well

 

Faflone: "I'd much rather have an excellent surgeon who knows jack about literature than a mediocre surgeon who is a great philosopher"

 

True, but I figure for most cases most doctors are competent enough, the difference being some are willing to listen to and address the concerns of their patients (or so I have heard,) most seem to think they are the dispensers of wisdom and we're supposed to just accept what they say uncritically.

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MishMish said in post #5 :

the difference being some are willing to listen to and address the concerns of their patients (or so I have heard,)

 

Exactly. This is the most common complaint patients have. No matter what specialty you are it is crucial to listen to the patient. It is true that a lot of what the patient tells you is worthless information to you, but it is important to remember what a physician is. This patient is putting his or her life in your hands. It is your responsibility to listen to the patient, even if it is information you don't need or have already heard.

 

I suppose the goal of the addition of humanities to medical school coursework is more or less to remind students who see science day after day, week after week, there is a very real and human side to medicine.

 

But I agree that one art or literature course is not going to change one's social outlook, especially since they're almost set in stone by the time you actually reach medical school.

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Perhaps later, when he [a young physician] is older, he'll have learned how to converse. Astute as he is, he doesn't yet understand that all cures are partly "talking cures," in Freud's phrase. Every patient needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, for talk is the kiss of life. Besides talking himself, the doctor ought to bleed the patient of talk, of the consciousness of his illness, as earlier physicians used to bleed their patients to let out heat or dangerous humors.

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I think the best way for physicians to learn to communicate is to get into hospitals and start doing it with real patients.

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blike said in post #1 :

Many US medical schools are starting to add literature and art to the rigid core science schedule of first and second year medical students.

 

Surely you're joking!!

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nah, i just read about it in the newspaper. seems as if a few of the 'top 10' schools are doing it

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Skye said in post #8 :

I think the best way for physicians to learn to communicate is to get into hospitals and start doing it with real patients.

 

Just read in one of the news magazines about volunteer "patients" who allow new doctors/students to practice on them and give tips for what would make uncomfortable procedures more comfortable or less intimidating

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