Institute of Medicine and Humanities
After years of college, medical school and residency, physicians are well-versed in the human body, its ailments and its underlying science. But for all they learn about humans, doctors seldom study the humanities – a fact that Missoula cardiologist Dr. John Stone, St. Patrick Hospital CEO Larry White and former UM President James Koch lamented in 1987. The trio created the Institute of Medicine and Humanities to apply the values and perspective of the humanities to timely medical issues and to bridge the gap between a liberal arts university and Missoula’s medical community.
“The humanities, in the broad sense, offer tools that can help care providers do their jobs better,” says IMH Director Dr. Peggy Schlesinger. One of these tools is collaboration. Schlesinger says that medical practitioners are too often isolated in their specialties, working independently instead of as a team.
“We all live in our own silos, and it’s difficult to make connections,” she says. To amend this, Schlesinger teaches a seminar for students from Montana State University’s nursing program, UM’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the University of Washington medical school. The students learn to approach clinical problems as a team to improve overall patient care. “The patient’s needs are pre-eminent,” Schlesinger says. “That’s the most important focus for all of us.”
It’s just one of many activities for IMH, which also sponsors the Global Health Lecture Series, two doctor-taught classes at UM and clinical rotations for UW medical students, but Schlesinger feels it’s important. “We have a unique opportunity to promote collaboration among health professionals, beginning with their clinical training,” she says. “Promoting collaborative care will make medicine a kinder, gentler profession.”