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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Creating Conversations: Finding Ways to Promote Humanities in Large Medical School Courses


Since the publication of Samuel Shem’s House of God, medical students and residents have been famous for their cynical conversations about patients and life on the wards. This image is largely a caricature, yet peer pressure, medical machismo, stressful working conditions, and house staff subculture do foster negative attitudes and images. A challenge for medical faculty is to facilitate conversations that help students work through their fears and insecurities in ways that promote positive values, build character, and remind students of the ideals that drew them to the healing professions. Providing such an environment and structuring such conversations can be difficult, especially in the large classes and busy schedules that typify most of pre-clinical education. The following article describes an effort to facilitate such conversations.

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