The ‘medical humanities’ in health sciences education in South Africa

Steve Reid


A new masters-level course, ‘Medicine and the Arts’, will be offered in 2014 at the University of Cape Town, setting a precedent for inter-disciplinary education in the field of medical humanities in South Africa. The humanities and social sciences have always been an implicit part of undergraduate and postgraduate education in the health sciences, but increasingly they are becoming an explicit and essential component of the curriculum, as the importance of graduate attributes and outcomes in the workplace is acknowledged. Traditionally, the medical humanities have included medical ethics, history, literature and anthropology. Less prominent in the literature has been the engagement with medicine of the disciplines of sociology, politics, philosophy, linguistics, education, and law, as well as the creative and expressive arts. The development of the medical humanities in education and research in South Africa is set to expand over the next few years, and it looks as if it will be an exciting inter-disciplinary journey. 

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Steve Reid, Primary Health Care Directorate, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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medical humanities; postgraduate medical training; medicine and humanities

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(2):109-110. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.7928

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-01-08
Date published: 2014-01-09

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