Humanities & Medicine at Dell

The New York Times has taken notice of the efforts by the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin to expose their first cohort of students to the humanities, as a much-needed counterpoint to their clinical studies.

In a bid to return human care to medicine, Dell is “challenging students in its inaugural class to embrace their feelings by examining the fine arts.” First-year medical students participated in a three-part program at UT’s nearby Blanton Museum of Art designed to “develop observation skills and address how doctors treat themselves, through a session on mindfulness and self-care.”

Heading the interdisciplinary program was Ray Williams, the Blanton’s director of education and “a veteran of the emerging practice of using art as medicine of sorts for medical professionals, pioneered by Columbia and Yale.”

The Times piece notes that “Mr. Williams, who developed the curriculum for Dell, likens interpreting art to interpreting a patient.” Dr. Jonathan MacClements, an assistant dean at Dell and a student mentor, is quoted as describing the reasoning behind the program as follows: “The reason why we go into medicine is forgotten.

We’ve just become so focused on the day-to-day activities that the human side is sometimes lost. I’m hoping this will help us refind and re-identify within ourselves what made medicine such a special profession.”

While the piece notes that the effectiveness of such programs are difficult to quantify, Dr. MacClements notes that: “This whole exercise has reconnected me with my spiritual side. It has reinvigorated how I practice medicine.”