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Teaching medical humanities through film discussions


Following a brief consideration of two contrasting purposes for teaching the medical humanities, a description is given of a film discussion elective course. In contrast to the usual teaching of medical ethics which is primarily a cognitive activity emphasizing the development of a code of principles such as justice, autonomy, and beneficence, the film discussion elective was primarily an affective activity emphasizing the development of an ethical ideal of caring, relatedness, and sensitivity to others. The pass/fail elective, offered for one credit each quarter for two quarters, met once a week for one hour for twenty-four weeks. Each week a film was shown followed by a group discussion. A wide variety of social issues were covered. The objective of the course was to increase the ethical sensitivity of the medical students through promotion of introspection and reflection on social issues. A brief discussion is given of the importance and appropriateness of using film to promote the affective focus of medicine on the relief of suffering. Examples are given of how the course achieved its objective. A detailed description of the resource materials is provided.

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Self, D.J., Baldwin, D.C. Teaching medical humanities through film discussions. J Med Hum 11, 23–37 (1990).

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  • Medical Student
  • Ethical Ideal
  • Medical Humanity
  • Group Discussion
  • Social Issue