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Acad Med. 1995 Sep;70(9):795-805.

Philosophy and medical education.

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Medical Humanities Department, East Carolina University, School of Medicine, Greenville, NC 27858-4354, USA.


The most effective way to integrate philosophy into medical education uses ethical, social, and conceptual problems arising in medical practice such as those about informed consent, confidentiality, competency, resource allocation, the doctor-patient relationship, and death and dying. Medical students become better physicians by learning salient views on these matters and by developing philosophical skills and attitudes to (1) examine key assumptions; (2) broaden their perspectives and gain self-knowledge; (3) develop critical thinking skills about the kind of judgments they make, how bias affects their views, and the scope and limits of their knowledge claims; (4) generate tolerance, openness, and skepticism about dogma; and (5) cultivate empathy. Learning these skills and dispositions using moral, conceptual, and social issues facing them will enable students to recognize these issues when they arise in their medical practices and learn how to respond to them in justifiable ways. It will also strengthen the health care profession and institutions overall by fostering the openness, the questioning mind, and the critical thinking essential to the practice of good medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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