Medical humanities

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
M-FIL/02 MED/02
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with:
i) knowledge of the fundamental concepts of human sciences regarding the historical evolution of the values of medicine;
ii) the epistemological and ethical-procedural principles of medical professionalism, with particular attention given to building a culture of error.
Expected learning outcomes
The students: a) know the basics of the history of medicine;
b) know the logical, philosophical, literary and cultural principles underlying the clinical profession, also through a brief introduction to the world of the diseases in hospital wards (First Approach to Patients (FAP) clerkship);
c) perform a critical analysis of their own experience in the approach to the patient and to the learning of the methodological approach towards a symptom.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites required for admission
Assessment methods and Criteria
PARTE A - Progetto "First Approach to the Patient (FAP)" - Professionalizing itinerary of the Course
Each student will undergo a formative assessment based on the reflective writing skills shown by his report of the professionalizing itinerary of the course, i.e., the experience originating from the first patient encounters which will take place during the three-week attendance period in the assigned clinical division. The report will be uploaded on the ARIEL teaching platform of the degree course. Student evaluation will be based on the following criteria: the ability to extend the writing spectrum from a descriptive approach to exploration and critique of assumptions, values, beliefs; description of possible disorienting dilemmas, attending to the patient's emotions and to personal emotions.
PARTE B - Progetto "Un metodo per il clinico"
Each student will undergo an oral examination consisting of a discussion of the subjects presented during the course lessons and reported in the course slides, which will be available to the student in the ARIEL teaching platform.
PARTE C - "Storia della Medicina"
Each student will upload on the ARIEL platform a text discussing a particular aspect of history of medicine chosen by the student. The text will be discussed by the student during the final oral examination concerning PARTS A, B, and C.
Medical history
Course syllabus
Medicine has a history: origins and meaning of Medicine and of the History of Medicine; Sources for historical and medical study and research
- Medicine in ancient Greece and Rome. Medieval Medicine; Knowing the body: Renaissance and animated anatomy. Iatrofisica and Iatrochimica. Microscopic anatomy. The cell: from the first description to DNA technologies
- Enlightenment and public health: occupational diseases, hygiene and preventive medicine, vaccine prophylaxis, orthopedics, humanitarian treatment of the mentally ill
- The birth of the Clinic and its tools: semiotics, diagnostics and therapy; Surgery problems and their resolution: analgesia, anesthesia, asepsis and antisepsis
The 20th century: new concepts, tools and therapies
Evolution and transformation of hospital places
Teaching methods
Interactive classes, with both plenary sessions and small group working.
Teaching Resources
- A. Porro A., Storia della medicina 1 (fino al XIX secolo), Rudiano, GAM, 2009
- A. Porro, B. Falconi, A.F. Franchini, Lezioni di Storia della Medicina 1, Rudiano, GAM, 2009
- A. Porro, C. Cristini, B. Falconi, A.F. Franchini, P. M. Galimberti, L. Lorusso, Lezioni di Storia della Medicina 2, Rudiano, GAM, 2011
- A. Porro, A. F. Franchini, C. Cristini, P.M. Galimberti, L. Lorusso, B. Falconi; Lezioni di Storia della Medicina 3. Gli strumenti, Rudiano, GAM, 2013
Logic and Philosophy of Science
Course syllabus
PARTE A - Progetto "First Approach to the Patient (FAP)" - Professionalizing itinerary of the Course
Three-week attendance in the clinical divisions of the teaching hospital, each week preceded by a briefing encounter and followed by a debriefing encounter to elaborate on the experience and the emotions originating from the first encounter with the patients and the hospital life.
PARTE B - Progetto "Un metodo per il clinico"
The lessons are centered on the rational approach of the doctors to patient worlds, with particular attention paid to ogic and cognitive aspects.
- Disease and care in a wider cultural context
- Frailty and vulnerability, relationality, empathy and the "human condition"
- The patient and his symptoms: a rational approach to symptom characterization, interpretation and meaning.
- The discriminating value of symptoms
- Exploring patient beliefs
- Symptoms and causal relationships: causation; reverse causation errors; post-hoc fallacy; Logic of causation: necessary and sufficient conditions; Causal complexes. Exclusion and confirmation of diagnostic hypotheses; Assessing the value of informations concerning symptoms: sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values; likelihood ratios, introduction to Bayes theorem.
Teaching methods
Interactive classes, with both plenary sessions and small group working.
Teaching Resources
Jamison L. The empathy exams: Essays. Graywolf Press. 2011
- Halpern J. From detached concern to empathy. Humanizing medical practice. Oxford University Press. 2001
- Whitehead A, Woods A (ed). The Edinburgh companion to the critical Medical Humanities. Edinburgh University Press. 2016
- Wulff HR, Pedersen SA, Rosenberg R. Philosophy of medicine. Oxford: Blackwell scientific publications. 1991
- Wulff HR. Rational diagnosis and treatment. Oxford: Blackwell scientific publications. 1981
- Martin AR. Exploring patient beliefs. Steps to enhancing Physician-patient interaction. Arch Intern Med 1983;143:1773-5
- Edwards DAW. Defining vs. discriminating features. Proc Roy Soc Med. 1971;64:676-7
Logic and Philosophy of Science
M-FIL/02 - LOGIC AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 36 hours
Medical history
MED/02 - MEDICAL HISTORY - University credits: 1
Lessons: 12 hours