Humanism in Medicine Conferences
GEN 23rd 2020
The medical humanities:
The what, the why and the how
The what, the why and the how is the title of the conference given by Jonathan McFarland, a big defender of the medical humanities, at the Univerity Pompeu Fabra last January. In this short but fruitful hour we got to think about a topic that is usually forgotten: the humanitarian part of medicine. We tend to forget that medicine is not just about science and that the humanities do play a very essential role in this field.
Throughout the session we were asked to write brief answers to questions that made us develop a further understanding of the huge advantages that taking into account this part of medicine could provide. Some of these benefits include having a better insight into the diversity of the human condition or helping with the well-being and resilience of doctors. There is even evidence which confirms that exposure of medical students to humanities help to reduce burnout.
We are very thankful to Mr. McFarland for such an interesting talk and also for all the amazing projects he is running such as ‘The Doctor as a Humanist’, an online course about the relation between medicine and the humanities that concludes every year with a Symposium. This year’s Symposium was going to take place in Mexico City but unfortunately due to the extraordinary circumstances we are living it has been postponed. Nevertheless, there will be a virtual one in which topics such as the human an international cooperation at this difficult time will be discussed.
To end with this post I would like to remember something Voyno-Yasentsky (St.Luka), a holy hierarch and surgeon from eastern Crimea, once said:
“For a surgeon, there must no be a ‘case’, but only a living, suffering person.”
Doctor as a Humanist International online course and symposium
Last April, two members of the Gimbernat Surgical Association, Miranda Rico and Miriam Cazador, attended to the Second International Symposium The Doctor as a Humanist in Moscow, as a participants of the online course The Doctor as a Humanist that some AQG members were doing at the moment.
They had a unique opportunity to meet great doctors and medical students from all over the world and discuss with them about medicine from a different perspective thanks to medical humanities.
Some of the wonderful lectures they attended were: Human senses and Poetry by Dr. Ourania Varsou (University of Glasgow), Patient Memoirs by Prof. Jacek Mostwin, (Johns Hopkins University), Doctors and Patients in Opera by Dr. Joan B. Soriano (Autonomous University, Madrid), from Marcus Welby, M.D. to The resident: fifty years of portraying physicians in TV medical dramas by Prof. Josep Baños and Dr. Irene Canbra-Badii (University of Vic- Central University of Catalonia) or Bulgakov: Doctor and Writer by Dr. Artur Sharluyan (Son Espases University Hospital, Mallorca).
In addition, as members of the The Doctor as a Humanist International School, they presented the results from a study about the vision of both students and teachers about the implementation of medical humanities in UPF.
One of the best thing about the symposium was the chance to speak with Professors and to exchange opinions about what Medical Humanities mean, how we can implement them in the teaching of Medicine and how important they are to train our patient and doctor relationship based in empathy, respect and sensibility.
Medicine is not an exact science, and it implies a relationship with people in their most vulnerable moment of life, so it is important to think about the patient and not only about the disease. This is something we should have in mind during all our medical practice.
We would like to thank Mr Jonathan McFarland for this opportunity and we hope the AQG will have some representation next year in the Third International Symposium in Mexico.
We would like to finish with this statement made by Oliver Sacks:
"In examining disease we gain wisdom about anatomy, physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life"
An illustrated history of surgery through its old textbooks and instruments
On the 20th of February we had the pleasure to hear Dr. Ricardo Álvarez doing an amazing historical review through art, literature and instruments of the urological surgery.
It was an extraordinary lecture that made us realize how much has surgery evolved to nowadays. Afterwards, we could appreciate ancient and original instruments used to carry out these strange and surprising techniques for us.
We would like to thank Dr. Álvarez for sharing his knowledge of the history of medicine and for passing on his passion during the conference.
Science and belief. Plato's dialogues, pseudosciences and neurosciences
The 27th of November took place the conference “Science and Belief. Plato's dialogues, pseudoscience and neuroscience”. Dr Fernando Giráldez Orgaz was spectacular, as usual. With his words we could be able to make connections between Humanities and Neurosciences.
We learned that our knowledge is always approximative and partial. It is partial because we can’t perceive all the reality, for example, we can’t perceive microwaves. There is a part of the reality that we are unaware. It is also approximative because the brain operates with a previous idea of the world, -so we could say that the brain is aprioristic- and that is because we have a catalogue of interpretations of what we perceive, which came from our previous early-life experiences. The way that each of ourselves sees the world is conditioned by our specie and our personal history.
This conference was a great success! We enjoyed every single concept that was explained to us. We want to congratulate once again to our beloved Dr Giráldez for such an interesting and wonderful time we spent together. It was an honour to our surgical association to count with him as a speaker.
Finally, for those who have been left wanting more, here we leave the blog of Dr. Giráldez.
Tuberculosis as seen through XIX and XX century novels
On the 17th of January we had the pleasure to hear Dr. Josep Roig doing an amazing review through art of the changes in the tuberculosis perspective amongst the centuries XIX and XX.
Art in all his facets: literature, painting, photography and recording have allowed us to see how tuberculosis was much more present in everyday life than we think. The artists of the era could depict the reality of tuberculosis patients extraordinary well.
We would like to thank Dr. Roig for sharing his knowledge of the history of medicine and for passing on his passion during the conference. Last but no least, we would like to thank everyone that has made possible this conference.
For more information about the books and paintings:
Antoni de Gimbernat and the Scientific Surgery in the Enlightenment
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of our association, we organized a conference about Antoni de Gimbernat in order to honour the surgeon who gives his name to our association, as well as other events. To begin with, Idoia Álvarez, a student who is in her 6th year, gave a brief summary of the association’s history and highlighted the most important events.Then Professor Joaquim Gea, Dean of our Faculty of Medicine, talked about the strengths of our association in being able to prosper over these five years.
Before going with the conference Dr. Marta Pascual, colorectal surgeon at the Hospital del Mar and Associate Professor of Surgery, received the Annual Award for Best Teacher of the Year. Afterwards, Dr. Joan Sala gave a lecture on “Antoni de Gimbernat and the Scientific Surgery in the Enlightenment”, going over the impressive career path of this Catalan surgeon as well as explaining how surgery was at that time, with its difficulties and progresses.
We would like to thank everyone that has made possible the continuity of the Gimbernat Surgical Association and hope this lasts much longer.
Portraits of Physicians and Patients in 19th and 20th Century Art
This november 21th we attended to the second Gimbernat Surgical Association conference of the year. We had the pleasure of receiving a very special guest coming from Sevilla, Juan Fernández Lacomba and professor Cristobal Pera who did an awesome introduction of him.
The topic of the speech was "Portraits of Physicians and Patients in 19th and 20th century art". Juan Fernández Lacomba went through the relation between science and art, emphasizing how medicine is a source of inspiration for multiple artists. He presented different paintings starting on the 15th century, doing an interpretation and telling the meaning of every single detail present on each painting. As he was speaking, we could see how some of these details were maintained all along history. It is a difficult task to see beyond lines and shapes and we think that this conference taught us to observe in depth and showed us that medicine goes further than what we see today. With that we can conclude that a great part of what doctors are nowadays and the way they do medicine is due to how their ancestors acted in the past, and this is what art tell us. Art is the pathway that guides to the present and future of humans’ history.
For more information you can check:
Anatomical amphitheaters in Europe: The factory of the human body as a spectacle.
This january we had the pleasure of receiving a special guest coming from Madrid, Dr. Fermin Viejo. Dr. Fermin Viejo is a professor at the University Complutense of Madrid, teaching Anatomy and Embriology, he is also the chief of the museum of Anatomy “Javier Puerta”.
The topic of his speech was “Anatomical amphitheaters in Europe: The factory of the human body as a spectacle” and he did an interesting and deep pathway by some of the most relevant amphitheaters in Europe. He shared with us the key points of how the amphitheaters were used in different years and centuries and how the concept of the human body was changing at the same time. He included the evolution of the amphitheaters from the times where the dissections were made at the streets, with a lack of a scientific point of view until Vesalius’s show up, when the amphitheaters started to take place inside hospitals and universities. Dr. Viejo made an important contribution to our knowledge by pointing out the importance of history in our profession.
We would like to also thank Ester Moya, author of the Biomed Grads blog, who wrote about this conference:
Video forum: "The situation of human trafficking"
This november the association organized the third conference of the first trimester. We had the pleasure of arranging a video-forum about Human Trafficking, working together with the association AmeMarcc (http://amemarcc.wix.com/amemarcc), another of the faculty’s medical students association. In this occasion we had as a guests Belén Camino, from Doctors of the World Catalunya and María Felisa Círez, from the NGO Accem.
Belén Camino introduced the NGO and explained its work and its projects in Catalunya; María Felisa Círez explained to us what is trafficking, which is the situation in our country and broke some schemes we all have. The dialogue she had with the students during the whole conference was very interesting, as were the videos we had the chance to see. All the information provided helped us to reflect about the tough situation of the victims of human trafficking and how difficult it is to get away from this mafias.
For more information you can check:
-Accem website (http://www.accem.es/es/monograficos/trata-de-personas),
-UN website (https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html).
A philosophy of the body
The last conference of the year was conducted by Professor Emilio Lledó, writter, philosopher and teacher. He has been a professor at several universities and is a member of the Royal Spanish Academy. Emilio Lledó studied Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid.
After that, he went to Germany to continue his studies in classical philosophy with Hans-Georg Gadamer, who helped him to finish his doctoral thesis by securing him a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 1955, he obtained a position at the Complutense University of Madrid, but returned to Germany after his marriage in 1958 because Gadamer, who was then a Dean of the faculty at the University of Heidelberg, had offered him a position there. In 1962, he returned to Spain, taking a job as an instructor at the Instituto Núñez de Arce in Valladolid. After two years, he obtained a chair at the University of La Laguna. Shortly thereafter, in 1967, he moved to the University of Barcelona, where he had been given the chair in Philosophy. In 1978, he moved again, to the National University of Distance Education (UNED), where he remained until his retirement.
The Gimbernat Surgical Society had the honor of having such a guest who offered an excellent conference to all students and professors. He was very pleased to have students listening to him with great interest, as they once did during his teaching years. Professor Lledó inspired us with his words. He spoke about the human being and how, through language, he connects with his surroundings. We were delighted to listen to a small fragment of Aristotle's writings of biology, which Professor Lledó used as an example of his message: an act of great humanity is born from dedicating an eye full of great love and compassion, just like Aristotle did while writing what he observed in nature. The Professor's final message is aimed to us, who wish to serve people and preserve the health of others: We must also adopt this attitude and become great humans in order to become great doctors. Professor Lledó signed our new book of signatures and we had the opportunity of exchanging a few words with him after his speech.
History of Catalonian Surgery
The president of the Catalonian Surgical Society, Dr. Joan Sala i Pedrós shared with us the key points of the history of surgery. Beginning in ancient Rome, the audience was able to rediscover the history of Catalonia from the surgery's point of view. Important surgery history facts like the discoveries in Empúries, the great effort in the middle ages to translate medicine books or the creation of the Gremi de Cirurgians i Barbers were mentioned.
The audience had the pleasure of finding out interesting facts like that Pere III founded the first Catalonian Surgical Society 100 years before the foundation of the mythical and prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of England. There was also still time to discover the rol in surgery of singular well known surgeons like Salvador Cardenal, the Trias i Pujol brothers, Manuel Corachan, Josep Antoni Barraquer, Moisés Broggi or Josep Trueta. Nonetheless the association takes this opportunity to highlight two very special surgeons: Cristóbal Pera, winner of the Virgili award of 2012 and Antoni Gimbernat, the surgeon for whom the association was named by.
The wound as a literary and philosophical metaphor
The second conference hosted by the association was conducted by Rafael Argullol, writter, philosopher, poet and professor in Pompeu Fabra University. Unlike the first conference's scientific approach, Rafael Argullol focused on reflecting about the importance of humanities in the surgeon's roll in today's society.
Rafael Argullol Murgadas studied Philosophy, Medicine, Economics and Information Sciences in the University of Barcelona and completed the mentioned studies in the University of Rome, the Free University of Berlin and the Warburg Institute of London finally obtaining his PhD in Philosophy (1979) in his hometown.
As a professor he worked in several european and american universities (such as Berkeley, California). In the present day he teaches Esthetics and Art Theory in Pompeu Fabra University, in which he was the director of the Culture Universitary Institute between 2002 and 2008.
Storyteller, essay writter, poet, philosopher and defensor of knowledge and ilustration, he is the author of about twenty five literary works published mostly by Acantilado Editorial. His work guaranteed him several awards: for his novel entitled La razón del mal (1993) he received the Nadal award, for his essay Una educación sensorial (2002) he won the Economical Culture Background Essay award and more recently his work Visión desde el fondo del mar granted him the City of Barcelona award.
The professor collaborates and collaborated frecuently with newspapers such as El país and cultural and artistic magazines published after 1975 in the democratic Spain, associating regularly his traveler's side with his literary esthetics. He also participated in several theater and film projects.