Welcome to English 12, Medicine and Literature.
In recent years, schools have separated the Sciences and the Humanities. Students define themselves as talented at one or the other. This is a mistake, especially in the field of medicine.
Going back to the ancient Greeks, people united the two disciplines in the god Apollo, the god of medicine and poetry. Numerous classical and contemporary writers, such as Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, William Carlos Williams, Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, Paul Kalanithi, and Abraham Verghese, have demonstrated that the two disciplines can be united powerfully.
Medicine is not a purely scientific endeavor. Those in the field of medicine need to listen to patient narratives and write them. They are closely in touch with some of the most poignant moments in a human life, topics for powerful writing. Writers and doctors explore what makes us human. Consideration of that topic is why our modern culture is so enamored with medical dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy, ER, House, The Good Doctor, and Chicago Med.
The best physicians are not those who only possess technical skills and knowledge. Physician writers emphasize that deep exploration of people, especially people in some of their most difficult circumstances of life, has made them better practitioners. This has led to many medical schools encouraging a study of the humanities and implementing course work in literature and philosophy.
In this course, students with an interest in science, especially medicine, will explore the reciprocal nature of medicine and literature. The course explores the health care industry’s many facets. Students will examine the training of and demands on medical professionals and why these people need to be attuned to human stories. They will learn about bias in health care, especially as it relates to mental illness, gender, race, disabilities and socioeconomics, and examine how bias affects patient outcomes. Students will follow current trends in the field, researching topical issues such as artificial intelligence, DNA testing, pharmaceutical prices and insurance practices. Finally, students will examine environmental and global issues in medicine.