- BIOETHICS FORUM ESSAY
Harvard (Re)discovers Patients’ Narratives
The Boston Globe recently reported that Harvard Medical School is reconfiguring its curriculum in an effort to train physicians to understand the experience of illness, and the bewildering complexities of the health care system, from the patient’s perspective. There’s an intriguing historical footnote to this news. Much of what Harvard and its hospitals are now implementing – placing students in clinical situations where they will be intensely involved with the whole person, not merely with that person’s disease, and closely supervising students to provide feedback on their interactions with patients and families – is at the heart of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), the clinical training completed by many theological students and clergy in preparing for working as professional chaplains or for other ministry to patients and families. The CPE movement began in 1925, at . . . Harvard Medical School, when Richard C. Cabot, a professor of medicine and philosophy and the author of Adventures on the Borderland of Ethics (1926) called for a “clinical year for theological students,” similar to medical students’ third year. The most influential early CPE center was Massachusetts General Hospital, where Harvard’s “new” medical-education curriculum is now being rolled out. Perhaps Professor Cabot would describe this innovation as “a theological year for medical students”?
Published on: March 24, 2006
Published in: Health and Health Care