TO for Medical Humanities

"We have to think differently if we want to bring about change"

Medical Humanities, or Health Humanities (as it has come to be called in recent times) is an exploratory field of study that tries to bring perspectives from the humanities, the arts and the social sciences to medical education and practice.

CCDC has been conducting Health Humanities workshops since 2010.

Some major issues around medical education and practice that the workshops bring to the surface are: lack of effective role models, hierarchy and authoritarian behaviour, dehumanisation resulting from separating the human being from the professional, lack of self care, pressure to perform, the slow fading of hope and faith in the profession, etc.

Our workshops highlight the importance of pause and reflection in a profession where both training and practice take place in a highly competitive environment, and where rigid institutional hierarchies, work pressure and social pressures, all combine to adversely affect interactions among doctors, patients , caregivers, medical students and nurses.

The workshops provide a refreshingly new framework for medical students and faculty to work with, by encouraging them to use their bodies, and listen deeply to one another. The ability to listen to what is said as well as what is not said is crucial for the doctor. When participants create images or body shapes of their conflicts in the workshops, they do so in an environment of acceptance and no judgement. They learn the skills of expressing emotions and interpreting emotions as expressed through body images. The experience of expressing their emotions, doubts, and confusions- for many, for the first time in their professional lives- can be powerfully transformative. This internal process of reflection and the movement towards change is the goal of our workshops.

Since 2010, we have conducted around 30 Health Humanities workshops in 11 cities in India and Nepal.

We offer a 3 day module where participants experience the philosophy of TO though the games and exercises on the first two days. Day 3 is devoted to discussing the way forward- we guide participants and institution heads in planning the application of TO principles to medical education and practice.

Some of the colleges we have worked with are Seth GS Medical College, Mumbai, UCMS, Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal and Jodhpur, JSS Medical College, Mysore, Kasturba Medical College and Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, PSG, Coimbatore, Christian Medical College, Vellore, TD Medical College, Alappuzha, Jorhat Medical College, Jorhat, Assam, Devaraj Urs Medical College, Kolar, MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram, Wardha, Sri Guru Ram Das University of Medical Sciences, Amritsar, and Datta Meghe institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha.

An overwhelming 95% of our participants recommend that all medical students and faculty be exposed to such workshops. The uniqueness of the TO methodology is that each participant's insight is shaped by his experience of the workshop and therefore individually valuable.

Here are some reflections shared by our participants at the end of our workshops:

If you are not happy with something be willing to change it. Don't just watch

We have to think differently if we want to bring about a change in the current system of teaching

It has opened up a very major need to question the set norms of society

I liked the concept of forum theatre as a medium of dialogue rather than debating it verbally, which usually ends up in and no results and individuals sticking to their own fixed opinions

In a profession coming under increasing public scrutiny for its lack of humaneness, such reflections are a sign of hope and change.