Toward the clinical humanities: How literature and the arts can help shape humanism and professionalism in medical education

Johanna Shapiro PhD

Many articles, panels and presentations have focused on questions regarding the relationships (if any) among the humanities, humanism, and professionalism. These questions may never be definitively answered (nor, perhaps should they be). Nevertheless, below I share some of my own in-progress thoughts that I hope add light not heat to this ongoing debate.

Professionalism itself is a contentious subject, with many competing definitions. However, to be meaningful, professionalism must, as Robert Coles knew, engage the moral imagination (ref 1). To me, the most important meta-questions a future physician can engage with (preferably every day of her life) are fundamentally moral ones…

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