October 2014 | ISSUE 14
The Art of Medicine

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By Dr Tanya Tierney
Assistant Dean (Clinical Communication Training & Student Welfare)

The scientific basis of evidence-based medicine and the advances in technology have become drivers of medical practice today. Our MBBS programme must prepare our students to apply these scientific principles when investigating, diagnosing and treating patients. As we strive for quality in healthcare, there is an emphasis on standard processes, quality assurance and cost effectiveness, which can drive a culture of looking for “the right answer”.  However, medicine is not black and white – students must be able to cope with the shades of grey in between. This is where the “Art” has an important part to play.

 Content Editor

 "The practice of Medicine is an Art, based on science" - Sir William Osler
 
The ability to apply the scientific basis of medicine, taking into account the patient sitting in front of you is the key to the Art of Medicine. Understanding that the answer will differ from patient to patient is
 
learnt through the experience of seeing patient after patient. This is the aspect of medicine that is learnt at the bedside (be it real or simulated) and demonstrated through a patient-centred approach to medicine. It is the human side of medicine – listening, empathising, comforting and caring. Although these skills can be learnt, a patient-centred approach stems from attitudes – a genuine desire to heal and a true passion for medicine. This is something that we look for as early as during our Multiple Mini Interviews. 
 
"The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head." - Sir William Osler
 

Ultimately, our students must learn to put everything together. Whilst understanding the scientific basis of medicine is essential in a career in medicine, I believe that it is the way our students embrace the Art of Medicine that will allow them to become “the doctors that you and I would like caring for us”.

 

"Wherever the Art of Medicine is loved, there is also the love of humanity" - Hippocrates