Medical humanities: some uses and problems

The arts and humanities were allowed into the British medical curriculum in 1993 when the General Medical Council re-structured it in a paper entitled ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’. Since then many medical schools have developed humanities modules and the broad term ‘medical humanities’ refers to these. They can contribute to medical education in at least three ways: as a supplement to what is already in the curriculum, especially for ethics and communication; as an outside critique of medical practice; and to personal and professional development.

Feeding decisions in advanced dementia

When close to death, people stop eating. In neurodegenerative conditions swallowing may become unsafe, and artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) may be proposed or requested. But nutrition is surrounded by other considerations: opportunity, help, environment, enjoyment, mood, social being and symbolic importance. Poor care or deliberate attempts to end life might also result in poor nutrition and dehydration.

Social media: the way forward or a waste of time for physicians?

Social media is everywhere; its use has grown exponentially over
recent years. The prevalence of these outlets for communication raises some
interesting and potentially risky issues for physicians. On the one hand, some
believe that physicians should have a strong social media presence and can
benefit greatly from access to a global community of peers and leaders through
blogs, online forums, Facebook, Twitter and other communication channels. Dr
Anne Marie Cunningham provides a strong case for the advantages of developing

Vex not his ghost: King Lear and end-of-life care

King Lear is not limited to a single ethical dilemma but is a play about the suffering of mankind. This paper investigates how elements of Shakespeare’s play might enrich our understanding of the challenges and opportunities of modern end-of-life care. The paper addresses the following key questions:

• How can King Lear inform our understanding of suffering and pain in a clinical context?

• What can King Lear teach the professional in terms of communication with a terminally ill patient and their family?