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March 1, 2006

The Medical Humanities and Medical Education—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(9):997-998. doi:10.1001/jama.295.9.997-c

In Reply: Dr Spiro's thoughtful comments underscore the difficulty I mentioned in passing of medical schools trying to instill in students humane values that ought to have been acquired by them earlier in their life journeys. Colleges and universities, with which many medical schools have strong affiliations, are a natural setting for developing the kind of vision Spiro extols. Rather than more students majoring in the narrower “premedical studies”—another example of the disturbing trend away from the humanistic training of our future physicians—it would be welcome indeed to see students coming to us with concentrations in “medical humanities” or “bioethics.” Such interdisciplinary curricula at the college level would further open opportunities for collaboration between scientists and humanists, could provide models for more advanced programs in medical schools, and might help tackle the problem of cost by the pooling of resources between graduate and undergraduate institutions.