To the Editor.
—Again, we see the claim that English majors would make more humanistic doctors ("Premedical Education: A Modest Proposal Repeated," in the April issue of the Archives1). The skills required of English majors—the ability to dissect a poem and the ability to read ponderous tomes without falling asleep—may well be skills needed in medical school, but I fail to see how these skills automatically produce better bedside manner. Also, one may be able to feel all the conflicting emotions of great poetry or art but still be totally unable to display compassion to a patient. These skills are learned by direct observation and practice. Our medical schools have systematically crippled their students and house staff in this area by failing to promote or retain clinicians with good bedside manner and by insisting on call schedules that drive the last ounce of sympathy out of a house officer.
Elks ML. Premedical Education: A Modest Proposal Debated. Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(9):1684. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370090159033