Organising Medical Humanities Taster events for Trainees and Medical students : experiences and suggestions. Lisetta Lovett 30/12/2017

I offer our experiences of running Medical Humanities workshops from Keele University as an example of how it may be done . In doing so I do not intend to be prescriptive .My first suggestion is that if you are considering doing this either for medical students, medical trainees and/or other health disciplines you organise topics that local medical and non medical colleagues are able to lead on i.e play to your local strengths . You will see that our workshops were run by specialists in History of Medicine , English and contemporary film/TV. But you may have colleagues who could lead on poetry and medicine, music and health, the therapeutic built environment, visual arts etc….Ideally you want to:

• showcase a small range of humanities disciplines and demonstrate their relevance to health practice
• ensure that the sessions are interactive with plenty of time for discussion
• use the opportunity to advertise the AMH website and its resources
• evaluate in order to [hopefully] persuade the trainers of its continuing value on the curriculum. [AMH Council might wish to consider a wider collaborative research project]

To initiate this development locally I suggest you contact your local undergraduate and post graduate trainers . A template letter from our President might be helpful as an initial step .

Intended Learning Outcomes

To give participants:

1. An awareness of the medical profession’s revived interest in the humanities as an educational support to professional and personal development of medical students and trainees.
2. An understanding of the professional and personal benefits of engaging in one or more of the `humanities’ disciplines
3. A taste of different humanities’ disciplines (each discipline addition its own particular learning objectives) .
4. New and different perspectives on the practice of medicine, the doctor/patient relationship and the ways that illness is perceived or experienced by doctors and patients. This may entail moving out of one’s comfort zone .

GP workshops on Medical Humanities, Keele, 17 October 2013 [24 trainees attended]

9.30-10am Welcome and introduction

10-11am workshop 1: Suicide in Victorian England – Professor Alannah Tomkins

11-11.30am coffee

11.30-12.30 workshop 2: Doc Martin’: Logic, Laughter and a Culture of Compassion – Dr Beth Johnson

12.30-1.30pm lunch

1.30-2.30pm workshop 3: Writing Doctors’ Lives –Professor David Amigoni

2.30-3pm tea

3-4pm workshop 4: Casanova and 18th c medical practices –Dr Lisetta Lovett

4-4.30pm plenary and close

GP workshop Birmingham march 2014 {8 trainees attended}

9.30-10am Welcome and introduction

10-11am workshop 1: Tourette’s Syndrome and the modern crime novel Dr James Peacock

As above…….

Brief description of talks

General introduction about the benefits of studying the humanities and a brief sketch of the history of medical humanities in medical education

Suicide in Victorian England:
Trainees were divided into groups. Each group received one of two documents written by two men in the 19th c. who had later committed suicide . The groups discussed the apparent motivation for each man. Groups then told that these two men had been high achieving doctors.

In one case the motivation had been a false accusation of inappropriate sexual behaviour where a practice partner supported the accusation in order to profit financially from his colleague’s humiliation. In the other case the doctor, who was quite obsessional, had been distressed at being overlooked for a prestigious post .
These real life cases provided an opportunity for participants to discuss character traits of doctors that may put them at risk of expecting too much of themselves and of reluctance to ask for help . They also stimulated discussion about the emotional supports available for health practitioners then and now

Doc Martin: Logic, Laughter and a culture of compassion
Trainees divided into groups . Each viewed two brief clips from TV series Doc Martin and asked to consider the patient doctor interaction either from the doctor’s perspective or patient’s .

The clips highlighted poor communication skills, lack of empathy, challenges of discussing embarrassing subjects, problems when personal interests interfere with medical objectivity and professionalism, managing patient’s anger on not being given what he/she wants.

Writing Doctors’ Lives
Groups were asked to read abstracts from two different books* and discuss the changes of attitude that occurred over time towards their career and patients .

• eg. Saturday by I McEwen

Casanova’s Memoirs and 18th century medical Practice
A talk comparing medical theories, practice ,relationships between doctors and patients and medical ‘etiquette/ethics’ with contemporary practice

Tourette’s Syndrome and the modern crime novel
Groups invited to discuss passages from Motherless Brooklyn whose protagonist has Tourette’s and Obsessional compulsive disorder

Results of Questionnaire to trainees at Keele workshop

Motivations for Attendance : Most common: ‘curiosity about whether the humanities could influence the way I practice’. Overwhelmingly trainees wanted to develop ways to improve their professional practice

What trainees valued : Overall the day was perceived as useful and positive.: ‘a good course away from the hectic ward’; ‘a chance to think laterally/speak about the emotional side of medicine and find comfort’ ; “I didn’t realise I was allowed to read non- medical books!”

Liked group work and opportunity to discuss and reflect on how medical practice affected their lives. Interested in the continuities and differences between now and former centuries especially with regard to practitioner stress.

17 of 20 respondents said they would now ‘try to spend time informally engaging in humanities’ subjects’ { one respondent clearly stated he would not }

Criticisms : Reading material too demanding ; Not enough about other humanities disciplines

[ At risk of self publicising can I recommend our book Medical History Education for Health Practitioners ,Lovett and Tomkins, London and New York, Radcliffe 2013 if you want a session on history of medicine. This has 52 bite sized chapters on subjects such as ‘accidents in the workplace’ ; ‘From party games to pain control;the story of anaesthesia’; ‘child safeguarding’ ;’flu pandemics of the twentieth century’; ‘fashion and forceps? The medicalization of childbirth’ ; ‘war wounds and amputees’ ; ‘from variolation to vaccination’.

Each chapter ends with questions for discussion [answers are at the back] and some points on why the history of the topic is relevant to present day practice . It is a rapid resource of information ideal for busy lecturers and tutors ]

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