Surgical Humanities

The Humanities in the Life of a Surgeon

The objectivist approach to medical education has been quite correctly credited with the major breakthroughs that have made all our lives unimaginably better than even a century ago. The scientific method has been the backbone of this progress and this breaking down of disease processes into verifiable, component parts is of course, a core part of the life-long education of the surgeon, beginning at medical school.

However, a coming together of the individual and societies, the subjective experience of disease by the patient and an education and engagement in the hopes, fears, doubts, joys and sorrows that are an integral part of the human condition, has not had anything like the same emphasis in medical education. This is partly because we do science so well.

But the experience of the two world wars taught us that science and its phenomenal triumphs, when divorced from the spiritual, moral, ethical and humanistic narrative works powerfully and tragically for the destruction of the very thing it was meant to preserve.

At its most basic level an education and engagement in the medical humanities makes us more fully human. The human narrative must inform a study of human disease. And without such an education and engagement, physicians will become well-trained scientific purveyors of pills, potions (and operations) without ministering to the whole individual with compassion, understanding and empathy.

The Surgical Humanities Program within the Department of Surgery seeks to educate and engage surgeons, residents and medical students in the humanities. Music, art, literature, philosophy, drama, languages and the history of surgery are all being recruited in this effort and avenues of active involvement and research in the surgical humanities are offered. It promises to be an exciting journey - please come, join us.

Francis Christian
Director, Surgical Humanities Program

Dr. Francis Christian is a General Surgeon in the Department of Surgery, a poet and novelist. His first collection of poems was published in 2000 and his novel, “Why was she so dear?” is available for Kindle, through amazon.com.

Poetry and surgery are “like the right and left arms of my existence,” says Dr. Christian, and he has had a deep interest in the surgical humanities from the start of his career. His surgical education fellowship thesis was on the subject of developing a validated scoring system for an engagement in the medical humanities.

He is looking forward to developing the first Surgical Humanities Program in the country; to be a leader, a beacon, a “light upon the hill” for surgeons everywhere.

Read an article Dr. Christian wrote about Christian Theodor Billroth.

Surgical Humanities Day

Journal of Surgical Humanities

Fall 2016

In this journal:

  • Dispatches from the Middle East: Medicine in the West Bank
  • The surgeon as an artist
  • Oslerium
  • The Student Life
  • This just in: Dispatches from Flint, Michigan
  • Zhivago: Doctor in literature

Archives

In this journal:

  • Brainstorm of Shapes and Colours
  • Finger Painting in Uganda
  • Heart to Heart
  • The Hospital Life of a Soldier of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion
  • Oslerium
  • The Student Life
  • Zhivago: Doctor in Literature

In this journal:

  • The Colours of Equanimity
  • Discovering her Freedom
  • Music & Surgery: A Contrapuntal Relationship
  • The Soporific Sponge
  • Oslerium
  • The Student Life
  • Poetry Corner
  • Zhivago: Doctor in Literature
In this Journal:
  • Editorial
  • About Our Cover Art
  • Landscapes of the Brain
  • The View from Under the Drapes
  • My Artistic Process
  • Mission to Congo
  • Medicine-Music Nexus
  • Oslerium
  • Poetry Corner
  • Zhivago
  • Life Story
  • Submission Guidelines
JSH

In this Journal:

  • Editorial
  • Message form the Chair
  • Culture in the Clinical Encounter
  • Moveable Feast of Color
  • This Just-In
  • Two Months in Africa
  • Oslerium
  • Poetry Corner
  • Zhivago
  • The Operation
  • Submission Guidelines

In this Journal:

  • Message from the Chair
  • Editorial
  • Ether Day
  • My Conversation
  • Olga the Golden Owl
  • Family Meeting
  • Oslerium
  • Poetry Corner
  • Zhivago
  • How to be a Doctor
  • Submission Guidelines
JSH