Article ID: CBB555404280

Making the Case for History in Medical Education (2015)


Historians of medicine have struggled for centuries to make the case for history in medical education. They have developed many arguments about the value of historical perspective, but their efforts have faced persistent obstacles, from limited resources to curricular time constraints and skepticism about whether history actually is essential for physicians. Recent proposals have suggested that history should ally itself with the other medical humanities and make the case that together they can foster medical professionalism. We articulate a different approach and make the case for history as an essential component of medical knowledge, reasoning, and practice. History offers essential insights about the causes of disease (e.g., the non-reductionistic mechanisms needed to account for changes in the burden of disease over time), the nature of efficacy (e.g., why doctors think that their treatments work, and how have their assessments changed over time), and the contingency of medical knowledge and practice amid the social, economic, and political contexts of medicine. These are all things that physicians must know in order to be effective diagnosticians and caregivers, just as they must learn anatomy or pathophysiology. The specific arguments we make can be fit, as needed, into the prevailing language of competencies in medical education.

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Authors & Contributors
Iorio, Silvia
Hyslop, Anthea
Hyson, John M.
Davis, Regina I.
Olszewski, Margaret Maria
Fuller, Jonathan
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Medicina Historica
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Health and History
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
University of Maryland Dental School
Australian Scholarly Publishing
Lexington Books
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
University of Toronto
University of Michigan Press
Medical education and teaching
Societies; institutions; academies
History of science, as a discipline
Universities and colleges
Halford, George Bitton
Shatkin, Aaron J.
Flexner, Abraham
Lance, James W.
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
18th century
17th century
United States
North America
Melbourne (Victoria, Australia)
Baltimore (Maryland, U.S.)
University of Melbourne
University of Michigan Medical School
Australian Academy of Science

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