Medical humanities in nursing: thought provoking?

J Adv Nurs. 1992 Oct;17(10):1182-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.1992.tb01833.x.


Medical humanities is an innovative way of learning. Discussing literary texts of nursing practice has been used to help students analyse attitudes, values and ethics; it has also been used to help practitioners review and reflect on their own experience and philosophy of nursing. In nursing education, it has been used to explore difficult issues in a safe environment. The value of this approach in nursing education and practice is that it can encourage reflection, promote self-awareness and stimulate debate on difficult issues: for example, death and dying, power and institutionalization (of patients and staff) and pain. This paper gives a detailed worked example of how a literary text can be used in this way, the aim being to provide a resource which readers can then use with a group of students or colleagues. Finally, the authors explore the question of where medical humanities might have a place in the curriculum: as a lecture/tutorial in a course (e.g. Ethics), as a module in the curriculum, as a method of teaching nursing subjects (e.g. communication skills), as a discussion group (outside the curriculum), as a study guide, using literary texts alongside nursing text books. Any of these strategies can be a powerful vehicle for preserving the 'human factor' in both nursing education and continuing professional development.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Nursing / standards*
  • Group Processes
  • Humanities*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Literature
  • Semantics
  • Students, Nursing / psychology
  • Symbolism
  • Teaching / methods