The Physicians' Profession through the Ages

Edmund Pellegrino (1979), defined humanism as a "set of deep-seated personal convictions about one’s obligations to others, especially those in need, encompassing a spirit of sincere concern for the centrality of human values in every aspect of professional activity." Throughout this course, we will explore various aspects of humanism as it relates to health and health care. Gaufberg and Hodges (2016) elaborate this point writing, that humanism “more than learning how to display empathy and appreciate another's perspective," but involves “recognizing and navigating tensions between values such as empathy and objectivity, efficiency and quality, standardized and individualized care” as well the “influence of systems and culture on relationships.”

We will begin this endeavor by situating the notion of humanism in the larger history of medicine and health care. Read the classic article by medical historian Henry Sigerist, which gives an account of various premodern medical traditions and then the emergence of modern medicine. As you read, think about how the orientation of premodern medical practitioners captured particular notions of humanism--of what the body was, of what disease was, of the relationship of different aspects of a person's life to their health. As modern medicine emerges, what forces shaped it and how did these affect the humanistic sensibilities of medicine (both for better and worse).

Continue by reading the article at the link below.