What makes for a better doctor and good medical practice? Perspectives from Film and Book Narratives

Medical students trained under the current medical curriculum have a view that the success of the practice medicine relies on making a diagnosis, finding an appropriate treatment and curing the patient. There is an expectation that the advances in bioscience, modern technology, personalized and targeted drugs, and the recent promise of stem cell therapies will enable every illness to be pathologically classified as a disease and every disease to have a cure.

Whilst this bioscience and technology centric approach of medicine has enabled many lives to be saved, this has also led to two undesirable consequences. Firstly, by diverting time and resources mainly into the science of medicine and less into the art of medicine, doctors have not been trained to see and treat the patient as person which is vital in helping to help the patient regain a sense of well being and personal worth. Besides pills and surgery, there is much to be done to heal the patient e.g. the best medicine for patients can be said to be listening, love, compassion and laughter. Secondly, we are at risk of blinkered thinking if we believe that patient care will be improved by discoveries of science and technology alone, and not pay attention to the increasing evidence an attitude change in doctors in particular in diligence, moral clarity and ingenuity are ingredients for doctors to become better in delivering improved patient care as well as enhanced patient safety.

Through discussion of film and book narratives, the expected outcome from this project will be three fold: firstly, an increased awareness and sensitivity amongst medical students of the need to understand the person from the view point of a patient; secondly that a doctor can help a patient to heal using non medical means; and thirdly that despite the often imperfect ways in which medical practice is conducted, doctors can find ways to improve on their own performance by cultivating a "science of performance".

Principal Investigators:
Professor Li Chong Chan (Department of Pathology)
Dr Julie Chen (Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education and Family Medicine Unit)

Key member of project:
Professor Richard Fielding (Department of Community Medicine)