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Humanities in Medicine

Dr. Brian Mandell, Professor and Chairman Department of Medicine

There are forces that subtly (and not so subtly) erode the traditional patient-physician relationship and reduce physician satisfaction. These forces are not all intrinsically bad; many reflect positive technological advances in the battle against disease. Some forces are economic, representing efforts to maintain the financial solvency of a patient’s choice-oriented model of health care. Others actually reflect attempts to preserve our own sense of humanity, a particularly important goal as young physicians mature through professional adolescence (residency training).

But increased reliance on sophisticated imaging and testing techniques can reduce time spent in thoughtful direct patient interaction. Ubiquitous support staff and phlebotomy teams increase efficiency, but reduce the number of opportunity moments for physical contact and discussion between physician and ill patient. Shortened outpatient visits and hospital stays, increased paperwork, enforced limited work hours and more team coverage further diminish face time with our patients. Use of electronic charting reduces chat time and eye contact in the office. And as the patient is progressively moved away from the doctor’s gaze and touch, human aspects of patient care may wither, including the sense of connection between physician and patient. Rewards from interacting with our patients as people become elusive.

As one of many efforts to stem this withering of the joy of patient care and to increase the appreciation of the special role we are permitted to play as physicians, we offer our Medical Humanities Program. The program provides various venues to reflect on our personal practice of medicine and on our profession. We hope these different presentations will encourage reflection upon various aspects of medicine, the patient as person, our growth as physicians and individuals, and about health care delivery in general.

Our aggressive and ongoing pursuit of medical knowledge, efficiency, and financial responsibility easily competes with history, literature, religion, music, poetry, and ethics; the very things that personally enrich us as physicians. As we build research networks and encourage the maturation of physician scientists, we should not ignore introspective aspects of our interactions with patients, and our connections with the past. We should weave the threads of self-assessment and reflective practice into a shawl that we can comfortably wear throughout our professional lives.

Brian F Mandell, MD, PhD, MACP, FACR
Professor and Chairman Department of Medicine
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of CWRU
Center for Vasculitis Care and Research
Editor in Chief, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine

This program provides various venues to reflect on our personal practice of medicine and on our profession. We hope these different presentations will encourage reflection upon various aspects of medicine, the patient as person, our growth as physicians and individuals, and about health care delivery in general.

Humanities Upcoming Events
Date Title Time Guest Credentials
Thursday, November 5, 2015 Medicine's Hidden Emotion: Horror Noon – 1 p.m.
Catherine Belling, PhD Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
Chicago, IL
Thursday, March 31, 2016 Who is ‘Vulnerable’? Clinical Research after the Common Rule. Noon – 1 p.m.
Laura Stark, MD Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, and Associate Editor of the journal History & Theory.
Nashville, TN
Humanities Previous Events
Date Title Time Guest Credentials
Thursday, March 5, 2015 The Little Children May Be Bitten: Congenital Syphilis, Devastating Cures, and Dracula Noon – 1 p.m.
Brandy Schillace, PhD Managing Editor, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio
Thursday, April 23, 2015 Musings on My Life in Art and Art in My Life Noon – 1 p.m.
Bennett Lorber, MD, DSc (Hon), MACP Durant Professor of Medicine
Temple University School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, May 21, 2015 hx of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the end of the Civil War Noon – 1 p.m.
Mark Stillman, MD Neurological Center for Pain
Cleveland Clinic
Thursday, October 2, 2014 Hippocrates Cafe 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Medicine Grand Rounds, Bunts Auditorium
Jon Hallberg, MD Associate professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health Medical director, University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic
Creator and host, Hippocrates Cafe University of Minnesota Medical School
Thursday, October 9, 2014 “Van Gogh: A Medical History of Bipolar Disorder & Suicide” Noon – 1 p.m.
Joseph R. Calabrese, MD Bipolar Disorders Research Chair & Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Mood Disorders Program
University Hospitals Case Medical Center
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Thursday, October 30, 2014 “Between Liberal Medicine and Conservative Care: The History and Politics of Pain Relief in America” Noon – 1 p.m.
Prof. Keith Wailoo Vice Dean; Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Princeton University
Thursday, February 27, 2014 “A Maestro’s Heart: Gustav Mahler’s Cardiac Disease“ Noon – 1 p.m.
Gregory W. Rutecki, MD Staff, Internal Medicine
National Consult Service
Cleveland Clinic
Thursday, November 21, 2013 “Recapturing the Calling: Mindfulness in Practice“ 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
Medicine Grand Rounds
Bunts Auditorium
Michael J Baime, MD Penn Program for Mindfulness
Abramson Cancer Center
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, October 18, 2012 "Peru Health Outreach Project: Notes from the field" Noon - 1 p.m.
Clark Madsen
Vipan Nikore, MD
Cleveland Clinic Internal Medicine
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 "Cancer Therapy with Neutrons: A Case Study of Failure" Noon - 1 p.m.
Gerald Kutcher, MD Professor, History of Science, Technology and Medicine
Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
Ph.D. Physics, City University of New York
May 10, 2012
"The End of the World? Social and Political Responses to Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages" Noon - 1 p.m.
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt Professor and Chair
Department of History
Cleveland State University
Thursday, March 1, 2012 “The Importance of the Family History” 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
Bunts Auditorium
Michael A. LaCombe, MD, FACC, MACP Professor of Medicine
Professor of Medical Humanities
Associate Editor, Annals of Internal Medicine
Maine General Medical Center
Noninvasive Cardiology
Augusta, Maine
Thursday, March 1, 2012 "Stories from Medicine: Where They Come From and How to Tell Them" Noon - 1 p.m., NA5-3/4 Michael A. LaCombe, MD, FACC, MACP

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