Medicine and the Human

Medicine and the Human

The 19th Century physician and pioneer of medical education, William Osler, counselled his medical students that it was more important for them to know about the patient with the disease rather than the disease affecting the patient. Yet in the science-saturated culture in which we live, the patient is at risk of getting lost in the fog of science and technology.

How can we keep humanity in medicine?

Medicine and the Human deals with the intersection of human experience, medical practice, and scientific technology, and centres on the meaning of medicine in relation to the individual within its society and community.

The UOW School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences recognises the importance of valuing the human in all medical encounters. Medicine and the Human is a medical humanities program that seeks to emphasise the human in four broad but intersecting areas of the School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences's work.


About the program

Beyond the stethoscope: engaging students in a humanist approach to medicine and health science. Our aim is to extend students’ learning about humanity and empathy, and provide a forum for students to develop their sense of leadership and advocacy, and to embrace a deeper meaning of medicine.

The doctor-patient relationship has been a guiding concept of medical practice for millennia. What this relationship entails and who it involves, has changed over time and in different contexts. The essential diversity of the term needs to be recognised as something mutable and which meets a need in those times and places. This aspect of Medicine and the Human celebrates this diversity through art, philosophy and literature. It encourages students and our communities to examine what this relationship is and to re-imagine what its role is for people’s health and their experience of illness.

Caring for the Incarcerated

The MedHum team were delighted to receive a grant through UOW's Global Challenges Program for the project, ‘Caring for the Incarcerated: lessons from the past policy for the future’. This research collaboration between UOW researchers and Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network aims to unveil how historical forces come into play in today’s delivery of health care within the prison system. A better appreciation of medical and health policy history will help inform current practice and future needs. The impact of this research will have a direct result on the inmates themselves, along with their families and the community upon release. Team: A/Prof Louella McCarthy (SMAH), Dr Kath Weston (SMAH), Dr Jane Carey (LHA), Dr Stephen Hampton (JHFMHN).

There is a natural connection between global public health and medical humanities. Together they allow the intersection of human experience, medical practice, and science, in the context of the individual within a culture and community. Global public health seeks understanding, appreciation, and advocacy for the health needs of people across the world, irrespective of borders.

Medicine and health share a unique fascination for many people, not just by medical professionals but by their patients, by families of the ill, and even for the television watching majority. In other words for everyone! Medicine and the Human seeks a means to bring these many publics together, to discuss matters of shared interest and to address the questions that need to be asked. A varied program of seminars, exhibitions, film and visual arts presentations, dramatic and literary events provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary interactions within UOW and engagement with arts practitioners and art lovers across the region.

Discipline Leader

Advisory Committee

  • Jenny Briscoe-Hough - Port Kembla Community Project Inc.
  • Dr Tony Chu - Clinician/Fry Day Drama Group
  • Beatrice Dowsett - GSM Medical Alumna, registered medical practitioner
  • Dr Rob Kaplan - Clinical Academic, History of Psychiatry
  • Dr Jen Roberts - History Discipline, UOW