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Rationale, Goals and Objectives

Personal Rationale

How does one take a sick baby off life support and place him in the arms of his overwhelmed mother to die? How does one tell a mother of two young children that she has advanced and untreatable cancer? How does one try to make a positive difference in the life of a 58 year old with diabetes who cannot afford the medications prescribed? How does one sleep after seeing the family in the emergency department devastated in a car accident? The faculty in the Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration walk these questions daily and want our future physicians to learn this walk in a kinder way than we were trained. Some things cannot and should not be reduced to the cognitive and technical aspects of medicine. But where do we train our learners how to walk this path without turning off our hearts? How do we train them to meet the heartache in front of them....and then see the next patient? Resilience needs to be taught before the protective walls of our psyche are needed, not after. Learning to walk the path of caring takes an equanimity that simply cannot be taught in lecture halls nor in the midst of clinical rotations requiring pre-rounding, rounding, academic questions and patient care demands. The Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration entails 6 months of training integrated across the four years of medical school. It is by far the most extensive and in-depth training being offered across the country. It focuses on helping them embody the heart that drew them to medicine, and we hope it will provide a resilience that will serve them throughout the demands of this career.

Academic Rationale

In 2010, the Carnegie Institute published a report (Educating Physicians) which analyzes physician training in the 100 years since the 1910 Flexner Report. Their report is divided into four areas of recommendations:

  1. Reevaluation of the curriculum with standardization of learning outcomes and Individualization of the learning process
  2. Integration of formal knowledge and clinical experience with earlier clinical experience for students and more basic science/best evidence for residents
  3. Development of habits of inquiry and innovation at all levels of training
  4. Focus on Professional Identity Formation which is defined as skills in Self-awareness, Interpersonal communication skills, and Acculturation

The Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration addresses the Professional Identity Formation component of the Carnegie report. This Scholarly Concentration is an opportunity for students to learn how to find balance within their calling to be of service and the intellectual, emotional, and physical demands of a career in medicine.

Goals of the Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration

  • Implement a four year Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration in the undergraduate medical education at UTMB
  • Create a culture of awareness of Healing Concepts throughout the curriculum. (Concepts and questions such as 'What is suffering?', 'What is healing?', 'Can one heal into death?'. 'What is a healer?' or 'What is a healing presence?')
  • Evaluate aspects of this new program for greater inclusion within the current curriculum and within the upcoming TIME curriculum (students in 8/16)

Objectives of the Physician Healer Scholarly Concentration

  • Recognize paradigms of education and practice
    • Technocratic/Humanistic/Holistic
  • Demonstrate abilities in Self-reflection and career direction
    • Evaluate own view of body/mind/spirit relationship
    • Evaluate role in healing encounters/healthcare environment
    • Create map for career-life balance
  • Demonstrate communication skills with oneself, with colleagues and with patients
    • With self-reflection, recognize one's inner critic and it's utility
    • Communicate effectively across cultural backgrounds
    • Insight to emotion and human response to manage interactions
  • Recognize one's impact on others (in conversations, in silence, in behaviors, in intention, and in one's role as a physician)