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Learning To Doctor: Reflections on Recent Accounts of the Medical School Years

Peter Conrad
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 29, No. 4, Theme: Continuities in the Sociology of Medical Education (Dec., 1988), pp. 323-332
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136866
Page Count: 10
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Learning To Doctor: Reflections on Recent Accounts of the Medical School Years
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Abstract

Using recent first-hand accounts by Klass (1987), Konner (1987), LeBaron (1982), and Reilly (1987), this paper examines "insiders'" experiences of medical school. Medical education emphasizes disease, technical procedures, and technological medicine, with scant attention to "caring" aspects of doctoring. Students struggle to learn medicine and to maintain a humanistic or patient-oriented perspective, but the social environment of medical training militates against humanistic doctoring. Toward the end of medical school, students undergo a transformation by adopting the medical-clinical perspective and shifting their identification from patients to doctors. The doctors who maintain a humanistic orientation to medical care appear to be individuals who had developed this orientation before they arrived at medical school. Thus, to increase the number of humanistic physicians, the best strategy may be to alter medical school recruitment and selection policies.

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