Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Prime: Partnerships in International Medical Education: An Oral History of the Development of an International Network in Whole Person Medicine and Whole Person Teaching

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Prime: Partnerships in International Medical Education: An Oral History of the Development of an International Network in Whole Person Medicine and Whole Person Teaching

Article excerpt


Whole person medicine gives attention to all aspects of the patient-body, mind, and spirit. The United Kingdom (UK) charity, PRIME: Partnerships in International Medical Education (PRIME), was established in 2001 to spread whole person medicine and whole person teaching to colleagues. Since then, its efforts have expanded to sixty-six countries, five continents, and hundreds of colleagues from different cultures and faith groups and worldviews, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Agnostics.

The purpose of this is paper is to capture the early history of the development of PRIME through the eyes of PRIME leaders who were there and played key roles in its early development. It is important to undertake this effort now to minimize recall bias and take advantage of their availability. This paper (1) describes the development of a residential, general practitioner (GP) refresher program known as Doctors' Dilemmas, which set the groundwork for PRIME, (2) outlines the development and expansion of PRIME and its programs, and (3) summarizes crucial decisions which greatly facilitated its growth.

Materials and Methods

This brief oral history outlines the development of the UK charity PRIME and its predecessor, Doctors' Dilemmas. Oral history is a qualitative research method based on first-hand accounts of a topic by individuals who experienced or were part of it. It is based on "lived experience."1 This article is based primarily on interviews with four of PRIME's early leaders, supplemented by documentary sources on PRIME's history. Emails were used to clarify some points. Those interviewed were selected based on recommendations from the current PRIME leadership. All played important roles in the development and extension of PRIME's work. All are physicians. Three of the four interviewees were personally known to the researcher for between two and six years prior to this research. The interviewer and each interviewee were able to see each other during the approximately sixty minute, individual interview. Three were interviewed face-to-face in England in March of 2016 and recorded in both audio and video format. One was interviewed soon after via the Internet using GoToMeeting software. Only the audio of the latter interview could be recorded. Interviews were transcribed by a trusted transcriptionist. Each transcription was checked for accuracy, corrected, and coded in hard copy by the researcher. The interviewees reviewed this paper for accuracy. Although informed consent is not required for oral history studies, those interviewed gave oral informed consent to be recorded and for their names and responses to be used in this paper.

Leaders Interviewed

Not all key leaders of PRIME and its predecessor Doctors' Dilemmas could be interviewed. Significantly, Dr. David Chaput de Saintonge, an academic physician and outstanding teacher, died in December 2014.2 He served as a Trustee and Director of Education for PRIME.3 Importantly, he authored the PRIME Whole Person Medicine manual and co-authored The Good Teacher manual.4,5

Those interviewed were Drs. John Geater6 and John Caroe7 who helped found the organization; Dr. Huw Morgan,8 a professional medical educator who joined the leadership in its early days; and Dr. Rosalind Simpson,9 a clinical general practitioner and talented teacher with formal training in medical education who led the effort to train faculty in whole person teaching. All are certified in General Practice (GP) in the UK and have taught internationally.


Doctors' Dilemmas

John Geater was the primary visionary of PRIME and its predecessor program, Doctors' Dilemmas. Doctors' Dilemmas was developed by Christian medical leaders in the UK in the mid-1990s to spur colleagues to integrate their faith and practice and to provide mutual support and encouragement. Geater's years working in a leprosy hospital in Bhutan taught him to value partnership between all members of the healthcare team as well as all of them having "the right attitudes toward patients. …

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