Summer/Fall 2002

The Best Preparation for Doctors?

excerpted from an essay by Michael McGrath,
Coordinator of Inquiries
Center for Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College

A student who has grappled with the eternal questions posed by philosophers and wrestled vicariously with the moral dilemmas dramatized by great novelists is much more open to the true complexities inherent in much of medical decision making.

Moreover, the advances of modern medical science have opened up a vast array of treatment possibilities which were previously unthinkable, but which also have spawned a multitude of ethical dilemmas.

The ethical decisions that will withstand the test of time need to be made by physicians and scientists who know much more than the scientific principles underlying a new procedure. They must have a deep understanding of the values which undergird civilization and an appreciation of what it means to be truly human.

My 30 years of experience teaching and advising premedical students and my extensive interactions with medical schools on projects like the Kaiser Foundation’s General Education of Physicians Study have convinced me that this understanding comes best from a broad exposure to our cultural roots, such as that found in a liberal arts education.

Read McGrath’s complete essay at Liberal Arts Online:


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