Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal
Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia
Can reading works of literature help a physician practice better medicine?
If so, how might this be accomplished? Short stories, poetry, and novels have
often been used to help medical students reflect on various aspects of patient
care and professional development. Medical humanities and ethics courses have
become increasingly prevalent in medical school curricula. However, the effects
of this training have not been measured. It seems to make sense that reading
a story like “The Death of Ivan Illych” might help a student to
anticipate some aspects of caring for dying patients. But what specifically
does one learn from literature that is useful or even indispensable to providing
excellent patient care?
Kolarik R. Medical Humanities. JAMA. 2005;294(4):495-500. doi:10.1001/jama.294.4.499