HOW DO YOU ESTABLISH AND RUN A MEDICAL HUMANITIES COURSE?
This was an organic process that involved discussions with a variety of colleagues in health and arts faculties within and outside my institution. I have been both reassured and delighted by the high level of interest and willingness to be involved in teaching. Anyone who has had to organise teaching schedules will recognise the difficulties in engaging busy colleagues to do additional teaching. In fact, positive feedback has been received from educators with some describing it as the most rewarding teaching that they have been involved with. Also key is gaining the approval and support of senior colleagues who control and manage funding. Endorsement of the course at a senior level also transmits the message that the humanities are valued as an integral part of professional health training.
A book such as this would have been helpful in devising the curriculum when I established my first course. I am indebted to my colleagues Dr Arun Chopra and Dr Neil Nixon with whom I established 'The Arts in Psychiatry'. We spent many hours discussing the arts and debating possible course content. We found that each had interests in specific fields so we divided the search for materials accordingly. I led on visual arts, Neil on music and Arun on literature and creative writing. I also turned to colleagues running well-established medical humanities courses at other institutions. Here, I acknowledge in particular Dr Paul Lazarus at Leicester University, Professor Femi Oyebode at the University of Birmingham and Professor Jane McNaughton at Durham University. All were generous in sharing materials, teaching plans and most of all encouragement and support when obstacles came my way.