Employing the Humanities and Social Sciences to re-engage and sustain medical students

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Studying medicine is a challenging experience for many students: it involves relentless acquisition of knowledge, combined with development of technical competence, and fostering of personal qualities such as wisdom, empathy, tolerance for ambiguity, skilled observation, and emotional resilience. Given these learning demands, alongside frequent exposure to illness, pain and death, it should come as little surprise that medical students—like their qualified counterparts—are more likely to experience burn-out, psychological distress, and suicidal thoughts than the general community.

This presentation will describe trial introduction of a Medical Humanities elective in the Flinders MD to support students’ deep reflection, critique, and consideration of the ‘art of medicine’ from multiple perspectives, in order to personally flourish in their course and careers.

Early indicators suggest the elective provides students with an alternative lens for reflecting on the practice of medicine that supports their emotional growth and mental wellbeing by fostering creativity, facilitating critical thinking, encouraging debrief, bolstering empathy, and reviving professional drive.

Issues/questions for exploration or ideas for discussion:
Why make time for a Medical Humanities elective in an already jam-packed MD curriculum? How to convince students and staff of the efficacy of such an approach for the learning and teaching of Medicine? What steps are required to implement such an innovation? What are the benefits and pitfalls of implementing such an innovation?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
EventAustralian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators: blue sky thinking - capitalise your ideas - National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 1 Jul 20194 Jul 2019
https://www.anzahpe.org/resources/Documents/Conference/Past%20Conference%20documentation/2019%20Proceedings.pdf (Conference proceedings and abstracts)


ConferenceAustralian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators
Abbreviated titleANZAHPE 2019
Internet address


  • Medical students
  • mental health
  • Medical Humanities elective subject


Dive into the research topics of 'Employing the Humanities and Social Sciences to re-engage and sustain medical students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this