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The “Art and Soul” of Medicine

September 25, 2009
A learning tool for future med students?

A learning tool for future med students?

Will medical students and residents at Temple one day work side by side with art students, learning about human suffering through iconic works of art such as Frida Kahlo’s “Suicide of Dorothy Hale? (left)”  Will they one day collaborate with journalism students and professors, interviewing members of the community to learn more about their health woes and difficulties accessing care?

It’s starting to happen now, thanks to a grassroots effort started last fall, in which students and faculty from all over the University have come together to explore how applying the humanities, social science and the arts to medicine will make medical students better doctors.

This spring, that movement culminated in the form of opening if the Center for Urban Bioethics and Humanities, housed at the medical school.

What could studying things like art, music, law, philosophy, ethics and anthropology have to do with making a better doctor?  Plenty, according to Brad Hayward, a resident in Temple’s department of medicine, who feels that this interdisciplinary approach will help train future doctors to treat the patient, not just the symptoms.

“Doctors are forced to do more with less and can only focus a small amount of time on treating a patient. Sometimes that means less than 15 minutes to figure out a treatment and send the patient on their way, without a more deep understanding of their lives,” he said.

But many who are new to the concept of “medical humanities” still aren’t quite sure what that means.  To that end, the CUBH is hosting a symposium in November to help explain it.  Doctors from institutions across the country will present their thoughts on topics ranging from studying the arts to end of life care.

Temple’s own Scott Burris, professor of law at the Beasley School of Law, will discuss enacting ethical practices into law.  The event is free, and open to everyone.


When: Saturday, Nov 14, 2009, 1-5:30 pm.

Where: Medical Education and Research Building, Room 105 and Stone Commons, 3500 N. Broad Street

Registration: Is free, but required.  For more information, visit the CUBH website or contact the center’s co-chair, Kenji Saito, at


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