University of Leicester eBulletin

Arts in Medicine

August 2002
No 178

Medical students are reading between the lines when it comes to patient care.

The Leicester Warwick Medical School has always taken a holistic view of teaching and its "Arts in Medicine" special study module option – now in its second year - is one means to try to help medical students to broaden their understanding of patients’ experience of health and illness and the different ways of expressing that. The basis for this is that peoples’ stories are contained within pieces of literature, music or visual art in a way that may not be instantly obvious to the scientifically enquiring mind.

The module is run by Dr Paul Lazarus, a practising GP and Lecturer in the University of Leicester Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and in the Division of Medical Education.

Students agree and study in depth an arts topic with him, usually literature-based, though it can also be drawn from the visual arts or music. As well as producing a 3,000 word essay on this topic, they also take part in seminars and interactive workshops, including one in drama. In these, health issues are looked at from an arts viewpoint; for example, students study depression in literature.   Arts – based staff from outside the medical school, particularly the University’s English Department, take part in teaching on the module.

By the end of the module students should be able to describe how human experience and images of health and sickness are conveyed in various art forms.   They will relate these findings to their own personal experiences of health and sickness and reflect on how this will be of use when dealing with real patients.

The module receives a lot of support from the four members of staff from the Department of English who also teach on it.

The “Arts in Medicine” module is an 8-week course and has proved popular with those students who choose to take it.

NOTE TO EDITORS:   Further information is available from Dr Paul Lazarus, University of Leicester Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, telephone 0116 258 4396, facsimile 0116 252 4982 email

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Last updated: August 2002
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