Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

On My Medical Education: Seeking a Balance in Medicine

Scott May

I perceive there to be a serious imbalance not only in medical education but also in most institutions of technologically developed countries. There are many ways to characterize this imbalance. The opposing forces involved can be viewed from varying systems. I hope that at least one of these dichotomies will sound familiar: mechanical over humanistic; objective over subjective; yang over yin; thinking over feeling; efficiency over creativity; animus over anima; John Wayne over Sophia Loren; the male principles over the female principles.

For convenience I use the terms male principles and female principles to encompass the two sides of this situation, but in so doing I do not wish to imply that only males have male principles operating or that only females have female principles operating. In fact, I will attempt to demonstrate that all men and women have varying proportions of both principles operating and it is only for purposes of illustration that I have chosen to use this historical and mythological classification of character traits. Under the rubric of male principles I include competition, aggression, logic, striving, objectifying, intellect, and power. Under the banner of the female principles I include relatedness, receptivity, creativity, sensitivity, subjectivity, feeling and nurturance. I will try to illustrate how this relative preponderance of male principles and the relative absence of female principles operates in medical education, what its consequences are for both patients and for physicians, and some suggestions on ways that it might be rebalanced.

First, I would like to establish the fact that I value, in fact highly value, the technological, logical, and tough-minded training that I have acquired in medical school. I am a strong believer in the importance of discipline, responsibility, the taking on of challenges, striving for excellence and even for power in most endeavors,

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