Innovations in Medical Education using the Humanities and Arts: Developing Physician Reflective Capacity and “Happiness”

Johanna Shapiro PhD

The authors contributing to this issue’s Medical Humanities section, Van Winkle et al. and Winter, tackle a persistent challenge in medical education: how to translate the abstract humanistic values and ideals that undergird clinical medicine into concrete contexts that can inform and inspire medical learners’ attitudes and practice. A subset of medical educators has maintained a longstanding interest in using literature and the arts to examine such difficult-to-teach issues in medicine (Charon, 2000; Shapiro, 2003; Halperin, 2010). Following others in the field (Wald, 2010), Van Winkle believes that developing reflective capacity (Wald, 2010) in medical students is an essential piece of this puzzle. Robyn Winter, himself an academic family physician, starts from the assumption that, essentially, happy doctors make for happy (in the sense of better satisfied and better cared for) patients. Each of their papers presents innovative ideas for integrating the arts and humanities to further their educational goals.

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