Checkup: Studying Humanities and Medicine
Before doctors become doctors, they’re kinda put through the ringer. They take heavy duty pre-med courses, sweat through the MCAT. And then, if they’re lucky, the hardiest and most determined grind their way through medical school and residency.
That’s how it is for most wanna-be docs -- but not for all. For a very select few, there’s another path to medicine, through the Humanities and Medicine program, aka HuMed, at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
"If you have studied religion, and anthropology, and history, and ethics, and whatever else there is in the humanities, that those subjects will inform your attitude and approach to medicine."
That's Miki Rifkin, director of Humanities in Medicine. To be clear, she said that the handful of students who get into the program every year are no less bright or hard working than traditional pre-med students. They’re just not forced to spend years on courses like organic chemistry that, Rifkin says, aren’t really necessary.
"It’s a total waste of time. The same thing could be said for physics or calculus. If you had physics or calc at a high level in high school, there’s no need to study more of that in college. So in fact we’re freeing up a year of orgo, a year of physics, and year of calculus."
With that free time, HuMed students can spend their college years pursuing passions in other fields, like history, or music, or even sports -- things that broaden their minds and help them relate to other people, including future patients.
HuMed students may struggle at first with some of the science courses in medical school. But overall, they shine.
"Very often, the student with the highest academic standing at graduation is a humanities and medical student. These are extremely intelligent students who we feel can succeed in medical school because of their native intellect and don’t need to prove themselves in college by jumping through some hoops that we find are irrelevant."
I’m Jeremy Shere