Unveiling the Hurdles in Cultivating Humanistic Physicians in the Clinical Setting: An Exploratory Study

Malays J Med Sci. 2020 May;27(3):117-124. doi: 10.21315/mjms2020.27.3.12. Epub 2020 Jun 30.


Background: The importance of cultivating a humanistic physician has gained attention in medical education. Humanistic values are established in early education and medical schools should provide a suitable environment to nurture and grow these values into professional identity. The clinical setting has a significant impact due to its direct involvement of students in real-life situations.

Objectives: The present study aims to explore the hurdles in cultivating humanistic physicians in the clinical setting.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative study involving medical students in the clinical phase, as well as residents, clinical teachers, and module administrators in the clinical setting under study.

Results: Respondents from different groups of stakeholders shared the same definition for 'humanistic physician': a physician who provides patient-centred care while demonstrating empathy, respect, compassion, integrity, knowledge, competence and a collaborative spirit. Despite changes in the healthcare system and technological advancements, humanistic physicians are still needed.

Conclusion: Cultivating humanistic physicians is a complex process, requiring various methods and assessments. Role models play a significant role in this process, which included not only clinical teachers but also peers. Feedback from peers was perceived as an important factor. The key hurdles identified were negative role models, and a less humanistic learning environment and the students' personal backgrounds.

Keywords: humanistic physician; medical humanism; professionalism; role model.