Toward a person-centered medicine: religious studies in the medical curriculum

Acad Med. 1995 Sep;70(9):806-13.


The role of religious studies in the medical curriculum derives from three important aspects of people's engagement with religious belief and practice. These are (1) religion as a source of meaning, (2) religion as a source and framework for values, and (3) religion as an outstanding context for the appreciation of human diversity. By offering separate religious studies courses, or by introducing religious themes and content into students' other learning experiences, the curriculum can foster the student's respect for the individuality of the patient in his or her cultural context; heighten the student's awareness of the patient's--and his or her own--beliefs, values, and faith as resources for dealing with illness, suffering, and death; help students address any of the myriad value-laden aspects of everyday living that are part of the context of many doctor-patient encounters; and strengthen the student's commitment to a person-centered medicine that emphasizes the care of the suffering person rather than the biology of disease. The authors discuss the strengths and limitations of several settings for the teaching of religious issues in medicine, and suggest specific pedagogical approaches, readings, and resources.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Diversity
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Social Values
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Teaching / methods