A colleague and I recently presented a workshop at the 2017 International Conference on Residency Education (ICRE). The title of the workshop was “History of Medicine can contribute to physician competency”.
In the almost two decades in which I have been involved in History of Medicine activities, my major interest has been an educational one. That is, the many ways that History of Medicine can be used to inform the practice of medicine – for medical students, residents, and practising physicians whether in early, middle or late careers.
The major complaint I have heard is ‘how can history of medicine possibly be relevant – it’s in the past’. My response is – it’s all in how you frame the question.
Names, dates – boring stuff, indeed!
More interesting questions, but all in the past.
These are the types of questions that really make one think AND require significant research and reflection. Further, the resulting analysis and interpretations can contribute to physician competencies.
So … when someone says to me that History of Medicine is ‘old stuff’ and that memorizing names and dates is a waste of time … I say, “Let me change your perspective – by changing the questions you ask”.