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James Poskett: Storytelling in the theatre

18 Aug, 11 | by James Poskett

Telling the Patient’s Story details a theatre company’s attempts to develop medical students’ case presentation skills. Workshops, covering everything from improvisation, personal monologues and body language, had a marked effect on the students, with all participants agreeing that the training improved their delivery of patient histories.

So, the arts and humanities can help medical students improve their case presentation skills thereby, in theory, benefitting future patients. Sounds like convincing evidence of the value of the humanities within the medical curriculum. Everyone happy? Well, not quite. One student offered the following feedback:

“[There is] too much focus on how this relates to medicine. We will realise that later.”


“Newspeak (PART TWO): British Art Now is doubleplusgood!” by Dr Jane R Moore

6 Feb, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

SAATCHI GALLERY 27th October 2010 – 17th April 2011

A few weeks ago I visited the new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery with my group of 4th year King’s College Medical Students. Visits to galleries, museums and art installations are an integral part of the ‘The Good Doctor’ Special Study Module but I hadn’t included the Saatchi Gallery before.  Modern conceptual art is challenging and I was uncertain how this visit would help in our exploration of medical matters. I need not have worried; our visit was enjoyable, reassuringly accessible and it was easy to make links to the theme of goodness in contemporary medical practice.

Newspeak Two on display in the large bright rooms at the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, London continues the showcase of contemporary British Art started in June 2010 with Newspeak One.  All the original exhibits, including the widely advertised Pink Cher by Scott King, have been replaced and the new collection opened at the end of October.  Charles Saatchi’s Sensation! exhibition (Royal Academy 1997) had – sensationally –  brought late 20th century British Art to public notice. This was the outing of Damian Hirst’s shark, Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, Mark Quinn’s blood sculptures, Chris Ofili’s ingenious uses of elephant dung and the Chapman Brothers doing what they do best – shocking us into a reaction.  So what would we make of Newspeak? more…

‘Comics & Medicine: The Sequential Art of Illness’: Conference, Chicago, 9-11 June 2011

20 Dec, 10 | by Deborah Kirklin

This second international interdisciplinary conference* aims explore the past, present, and possible future of comics in the context of the healthcare experience.  Programs in medical humanities have long touted the benefits of reading literature and studying visual art in the medical setting, but the use of comics in healthcare practice and education is relatively new.  The melding of text and image has much to offer all members of the healthcare team, including patients and families.  As such, a subgenre of graphic narrative known as graphic medicine is emerging as a field of interest to both scholars and creators of comics. more…

‘The Other Side of the Fence’ by Michael Corbo

11 Nov, 10 | by Deborah Kirklin

Medical student Michael Corbo reflects on what he’s learnt from being a patient.

I am sitting on a green chair in the waiting room. I have been sitting here for hours, but it feels like it has been days. I keep looking at the clock on the wall beside me. The room is filled with people, but all I can hear is the resounding ‘tick tock’ coming from my right side. A thousand beads of sweat start to develop on my forehead, one for every thought racing through my mind.

“Michael Corbo!” My heart stops. “The doctor is ready for you now.” more…

Institute of Medical Ethics Grants and Awards

2 Sep, 10 | by Deborah Kirklin

For information on generous grants offered by the Institute of Medical Ethics for medical student electives, internships and related intercalated degree courses, as well as institutional grants see below. more…

Dr Ciraj A.M. writes about ‘An Unusual Annual Day’ in an Indian Medical School

16 May, 10 | by Deborah Kirklin

This write up will share the experiences of an educational intervention with a difference.  It narrates the story from a medical school located at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. For the annual day celebrations of this school, the faculty used to host a cultural show as a mark of their love and reverence to the students. The cultural performances used to take different forms, ranging from songs, skits, dances and a lot more. On this year’s annual day, they decided to perform something unique. The movement was spearheaded by microbiologists who incidentally had many of their members involved in medical education research and cultural coordination committee.  A meeting was convened and the medium of theatre and dance was finalized to depict certain educational themes.  As usual, the process gained momentum just two days before the event. more…

“In Praise of Hypochondria” by Miles Little and Claire Hooker

17 Dec, 09 | by Deborah Kirklin

We have been discussing the role of the humanities in medical education, and the need to account for what one of us calls ‘medical paranoia’. By this we mean the tendency that medical students (and practising doctors) have to think that they have developed serious illnesses, making self-diagnoses frequently based on vague suggestions rather than hard evidence. We feel that it is time to reflect on the significance, meaning and potential utility of this phenomenon. more…

Establishing a Medical Humanities in Nepal with the help of a FAIMER Fellowship by Ravi Shankar

7 Dec, 09 | by Deborah Kirklin

In this guest posting, Dr Ravi Shankar tells us how a FAIMAR Fellowship help him to develop and deliver a medical humanities curriculum in Nepal. Ravi writes…

Dr. Badyal, my good friend during my postgraduate residency e-mailed me in late January 2007 informing about a FAIMER fellowship in South Asia. At that time my knowledge and ideas about FAIMER were nebulous. I knew that it was an American organization involved in international medical education. more…

How does this painting make you feel?

15 Jul, 09 | by Deborah Kirklin

There’s an old adage in medicine that if being with a patient makes you feel depressed then there’s a good chance that person is themselves depressed. So how does this painting make you feel? Depressed, or hopeful? Safe, or vulnerable? Alone, or observed? more…

Book review: The Spare Room by Helen Garner

27 Feb, 09 | by Giskin Day


Helen Garner’s The Spare Room (published by Canongate) is an exploration of the emotional and practical turmoil engendered by caring for someone who is grasping at straws to evade the terminal truth of their illness.


The narrative probes a friendship between two feisty women when it is taken to new levels of intensity by a clash in ideology. Helen (who deliberately shares the author’s name) starts off with noble intentions. She prepares her spare room with due consideration for longstanding-friend Nicola’s feng shui inclinations, hoping to strike just the right balance between practicality and homeliness. Nicola, riven with cancer, is coming to Sydney to spend a small fortune on alternative therapy at the Theodore Institute. Predictably, the Institute proves fantastically adept at sales talk but medically deeply dubious. Nicola emerges from intravenous Vitamin C treatment and ozone cupping weakened and wracked with excruciating pain, but she holds out against morphine until she – and, more particularly, Helen – can bear it no longer. Nicola is coaxed into reengaging with orthodox medicine by her outraged and exhausted friend. more…

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