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Power and its applications: a new module in the medical curriculum at Trinity College Dublin
  1. M Phillips1,
  2. M Hennessy2,
  3. A Patterson2
  1. 1Manchester Centre for Sexual Health, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Division of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew Phillips, Manchester Centre for Sexual Health, 280 Upper Brook Street, Manchester M13 0FH, UK; phillima{at}

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Background and context

The use of student-selected modules and the application of the medical humanities was recommended in the General Medical Council Tomorrow's Doctors 2003.1 Since then, increasing attention has been given to the inclusion of the arts and humanities into the medical education framework. It is intended that this would act as a complementary strand to the scientific approach in achieving the outcome of a ‘humane doctor’. Humanities as a group of disciplines develop the interpretive ability and insight of students by demonstrating the connectivity and relevance of art, literature and other disciplines to the practice of medicine and vice versa.

In 2009–2010, the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin instituted a series of medical humanities modules to be undertaken in the first year of undergraduate study. These consisted of modules in traditional humanities such as philosophy in medicine, creative writing and literature in medicine.

All students in the first year were required to select a module in which to participate. A list of modules with course descriptors enables the students to make their choice, and the modules are populated on a first come, first served basis, with students having selected their top three choices. In recognition of the fact that not all students would naturally gravitate towards the study of humanities, a climate was fostered in the classroom where ideas could be exchanged and challenged in a safe, non-threatening environment.

The modules are student centred, where active learning is encouraged and numbers are limited to 12 per group. Each module is encouraged to include a relevant field trip. The strategy of integration of the humanities within a medical …

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  • Contributors MP and AP conceived, designed and delivered the module. MH contributed to design, delivery and evaluation of the module. All three contributed to this article and had final authorship rights.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.