Joining Humanity and Science: Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics in Medical Education

Perspect Biol Med. 2022;65(3):458-468. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2022.0037.


Educating medical students to be physicians involves many dimensions. But in an educational culture where science and technology dominate the curriculum, these subjects also too often dominate the academic value system as well. While a firm grasp of scientific knowledge and technical skill is essential, cultivating humanistic virtues is at the core of all good medical care and the full well-being of those within it. This article describes a formative educational process that points towards compassionate flourishing and unfolds through dialogue and reflection on the human aspects of patient care and the student experience, a process coequal in value to scientific development. This educational process has been successfully implemented at the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook. When supported by a broader institutional culture through an ongoing reflective group process in residencies and other clinical settings, this process fosters professional flourishing, which leads to deeper meaning and compassionate care of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethics* / education
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humanities / education
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical*