Johanna Shapiro, Ph.D.
Medical education accreditation organizations require medical ethics and humanities education to develop professionalism in medical learners, yet there has never been a comprehensive critical appraisal of medical education in ethics and humanities. The Project to Rebalance and Integrate Medical Education (PRIME) I Workshop, convened in May 2010, undertook the first critical appraisal of the definitions, goals, and objectives of medical ethics and humanities teaching. The authors describe assembling a national expert panel of educators representing the disciplines of ethics, history, literature, and the visual arts. This panel was tasked with describing the major pedagogical goals of art, ethics, history, and literature in medical education, how these disciplines should be integrated with one another in medical education, and how they could be best integrated into undergraduate and graduate medical education. The authors present the recommendations resulting from the PRIME I discussion, centered on three main themes. The major goal of medical education in ethics and humanities is to promote humanistic skills and professional conduct in physicians. Patient-centered skills enable learners to become medical professionals, whereas critical thinking skills assist learners to critically appraise the concept and implementation of medical professionalism. Implementation of a comprehensive medical ethics and humanities curriculum in medical school and residency requires clear direction and academic support and should be based on clear goals and objectives that can be reliably assessed. The PRIME expert panel concurred that medical ethics and humanities education is essential for professional development in medicine.