Top medical school recognizes a serious need for liberal arts grads
“You couldn’t be a good doctor and a well-rounded doctor — relate to patients and communicate with them — unless you really had a good grounding in the liberal arts.”
That’s what the former dean of one of the country’s top medical schools firmly believed, according to a recent story from NPR, when he first created the HuMed program at Mt. Sinai medical school in New York in 1987. The program encourages students of the liberal arts to pursue a medical career and has been so successful that it’s now being expanded.
One of these liberal arts majors who is now in Mt. Sinai’s medical school says, “There are very few [medical school] courses — maybe, I can think of one off the top of my head — where doing a lot of science in college helps you. The rest of it is just a matter of, ‘How well do you study?'” And studying well, as our students and alumni can testify, is one of the great benefits of pursuing a liberal arts education at NSA.
According to NPR, Dr. Nathan Kase “wanted to do something about what had become known as pre-med syndrome…producing sub-par doctors…. Applicants — and, consequently, medical students — were too single-minded.”
In other words, the medical school didn’t need more science wonks; it needed more people who could think broadly, see the bigger picture, introduce fresh perspectives, innovate, connect science with the real world, and relate to people of all sorts. In short, it needed people with a background in the liberal arts.
At NSA we have always said that a rigorous liberal arts education is outstanding preparation for all of life—including a career in medicine. Dr. David Muller, Mt. Sinai’s Dean of Medical Education seems to agree: “People who look at the same problems through different lenses will make us better in the long run.”