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Henry and Sylvia Wong Forum in Medicine

Date: May 10, 2017 Times: 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Cat’s Cradle and the Clinical Trial: The Humanity of Medicine and the Humanities in Medicine

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (please be on time)
Reception to follow - All Welcome

DBHSC - 2032 
(David Braley Health Sciences Centre, 100 Main St. W. (corner of Main & Bay)

We are experiencing an existential crisis in medicine. A crisis of meaning manifests as physician discomfort with evidence-based medicine, caregiver burnout, and clinician ambivalence over empathy for the patient and the self. In this talk, we return to the social and historical origins of medicine to make visible three truths about the metaphysics
of healing and the relationship of the physician to society. A clue is to be found in the history of EBM at McMaster University and the work of David Sackett, who drew ideas from the novel Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Medicine touches the foundation of the human; the humanities offer a way of returning to this basic reality, of seeing ourselves and the meaning of our medical practice.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the physician’s role in history, society and cosmology
  • Explore the metaphysics of healing and medicine
  • ​Brief introduction to the history of medicine, medical anthropology, graphic medicine, literature and medicine
  • Consider the humanities as a set of tools for medical innovation, education, clinical care, and self care

Guest Speaker 

Ellen Amster is the Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at McMaster

newheadshotUniversity, and associate professor in the Dept. of Health and Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, and the Dept. of History. She received her B.A. from the Univ. of Chicago and M.A. and Ph.D. from the Univ. of Pennsylvania. She served as a simultaneous translator for an ORBIS ocular surgery mission and takes undergraduate students to Morocco for a context-based global health field course in the determinants of maternal and infant health.

Her 2013 book is Medicine and Saints: Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press). She joined McMaster in 2014, after serving ten years as professor at the University of Wisconsin.​

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