By Alexandra Chu
Reading, writing, and arts are known as the “humanities,” which is often thought to have little connection to science. On the contrary, the two actually have a lot to do with each other. Medicine brings the objective research of science and the creative aspects of the arts together because it uses a lot of factual studies as well as innovation and imagination. Throughout history, significant advances in medicine have occurred when practitioners came up with creative solutions to problems. Medical breakthroughs today are no different.
Physicians must follow established protocols, but they also need to adapt to each case they see. There’s often no easy diagnosis or treatment for a patient because no two patients are the same. Their bodies, family histories, and symptoms are different. Because of this, doctors and health care providers must be open to all sorts of possibilities, and they must be able to think of innovative ways to resolve problems that a patient may have.
In addition, creativity promotes empathy and communication in medicine, which are encouraged by the arts. When one reads and writes pieces of literature, s/he gains different perspectives and understanding of how others see the world. This is especially important because anyone can be a patient. This includes children, parents, politicians, teachers, other doctors, and everyone in between. Engaging with patients is a big part of working in medicine, so understanding them and being able to empathize with them will make the job that much easier and enjoyable. Sir William Osler, one of the most famous and influential physicians in modern history, once said, “It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” His words from over a century ago still ring true today.
Medicine has a long history of creativity, and it has a creative future ahead of it as well.