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Context: Defining and understanding the concept of Medical Humanities' is a difficult, neverending task, in which consensus hasn't been reached yet. Around the world, medical schools teach Medical Humanities in different courses, with different idealistic goals, albeit not accurately defined. Objectives: At Ghent University (Belgium), Medical Humanities is part of the horizontally integrated 'exploration-continuum', in which ethics, alternative medicine, etc. are included. Description contains vague objectives rather than a narrow definition. We, students, will acquire insight into issues related to, but slightly outside the educational package and own living environment. We learn about the interaction between medicine, patients, culture, society, etc. We often describe the goals as follows: the ultimate aim is to demonstrate that medical practice is not isolated from all other aspects of humanity, but an integral part of it. Design: Training in Medical Humanities is evolving continuously at our faculty. Presently, it has two parts. From year 1 to 4, we attend lectures about social, political or philosophical topics. This way, we learn to develop a critical way of thinking. In year 5, there are three options. Option 1: we approach a general theme (e.g. pain) from a humane point of view and write a paper about it. Option 2: in cooperation with literature students and the Museum Dr. Guislain, we prepare an interdisciplinary discussion between a 'humanist' and bioscientist (e.g. poet and anaesthetist). Option 3: we make a presentation about e.g. pain and literature, together with literature students. Through these exercises, we are stimulated to reflect about links between medicine and humanities. Conclusion: The ultimate goal of Medical Humanities in our education is to deliver doctors with human and humane understanding, knowledge, skills and experience. However, we, students are still in doubt about the concept and its sense, but more importantly about whether the content meets the objectives.'


Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium


Poster presented at: The Network: TUFH Conference, Ghent, Belgium, September 2006