Can medical students learn empathy at the movies?
- By: Roger Dobson
Doctors are often portrayed in films as materialistic and arrogant, but some films could be a useful addition to the medical school curriculum, an analysis of 150 films shows. The report, in Archives of Disease in Childhood (2004;89:1084-8), says, “Materialism and a love of money have pervaded cinematic portrayals of doctors dating back to the 1920s, and continue to be prominent in recent movies.”
It cites as an example the materialistic approach to medicine shown by Dr Jim Nookey, a character in Carry on Again Doctor (1969). The character sums up his philosophy by saying, “Specialise, that's what I'd like to do--specialise. The whole Harley Street bit with bags of lovely filthy rich women patients.”
Compiled by Glenn Flores, a paediatrician at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the report looks at how doctors are portrayed and names the top 10 most useful films for medical education. The medical specialties most