Academic journal article Trames

The Place of Medical Humanities in Medical Education in Lithuania

Academic journal article Trames

The Place of Medical Humanities in Medical Education in Lithuania

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The trend towards establishing the medical humanities as a component of medical education has been observed since 1990 (Wachtler 2006:1-7). Medical humanities are described as a list of particular disciplines (history, literature, philosophy, ethics, theology, sociology, anthropology, and possibly law) offering a multifaceted view and understanding of all integral elements of medicine and as a program of moral development reminding us about the ultimate goal to make a difference in the world of practice, and to do so guided by wisdom and virtue (Brody 2011:16).

The process of professional education and training general education, realized in non-specialty curriculum, is oriented towards three dimensions: development of cognitive competence, development of the personal competence, and development of professional and social competence. The majority of modern universities recognize the concept of liberal higher education based on the development of an individual's intellectual abilities and characteristics that influence the growth of his/her mental capacities. The purpose of the university education is an intellectual self-empowerment as a prerequisite for the liberation of an individual and the society as a whole. Hence a question arises: what kind of general abilities should be developed under university education? The most often suggested are intellectual and imagination skills, analytical and creative thinking, independent evaluation, acceptance of different ways of thinking, critical self-cognition, and the ability to apply the knowledge acquired to specific situations in real life (Barnet 1997). However, how would it be possible to have a universal model for the development of students' abilities and behaviour during university studies at different fields of science? For instance, are students analytically, creatively, communicationally, and critically skilled in studying physics, philosophy or therapy, evaluated only as much as the content of each subject requires, or should the borderlines of these subjects be transgressed? The answers to this question will determine what the criteria for the selection of subjects should be, and which subjects are necessary, and which are not. In other words, we have to decide whether humanitarian-social education should be limited to professional education, or whether professional education should rely only upon an optimal basis of humanitarian-social studies (Jakusovaite and Luneckaite 2011).

It is obvious that under the conditions of mass higher education, universities provide the system with players capable of performing a certain social role (physicians, nurses, educators, engineers, etc.) in a future employment institution. Is this sufficient? The other opinion is that university-based education is a forming process that is oriented to striving for meaningful liberty and changing of a personality. It would be highly complicated to achieve any essential changes without the existence of an intellectual medium. Education at medical universities first and foremost focuses on the technical, instrumental health care practice rather than on the development of practical wisdom related to moral efforts to identify and evaluate the situation. The medicine and health care are more than just a body of scientific knowledge and a collection of well-practiced skills, but rather the conjunction of the rational clinical experience and evidence based on caring for sick people. Although the concept of medical humanities has still not been established wider in the community of medical professionals, its understanding and application offer a great potential for enhancing professional and humanistic development in medical education (Shapiro, Coulehan, Wear and Monte lo 2009: 192-198, Macneill 2011:85-90). Educationally, the medical humanities can develop critical conceptualization and analysis of personal and professional values, and the reflexive and reflective capacities of empathy, collegiality, and teamwork (Wear 2009:153-156). …

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