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An Educational Philosophy For American Medical School Curricula

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American medicine has undergone dramatic changes in the past two decades. The launching of Sputnik I by the Russians in 1957 led the United States government to place an extraordinary emphasis upon science and technology that has been responsible for a staggering array of technological and knowledge breakthrough in medicine. Social changes have created stresses that have resulted in a high percentage of emotional and psychological illnesses. As a result of the impersonal nature of modern technological medicine and the need for emotional and psychological guidance, the American public has turned recently toward alternate methods of healing. Many of these alternate health practices are of Chinese origin. The synthesis of Western medicine and selected alternate techniques for disease prevention and control is known as "Holistic Health." With few exceptions, American medical schools, while recognizing the value of holistic health, have not incorporated holistic approaches or techniques into the medical school curriculum. Many physicians, interested in learning holistic theory and techniques, have been restricted to seminars, workshops, and other cursory reviews of Holistic Health that have been found to be inadequate. Because of the demonstrated need for a guiding philosophy of education and because of the substantial element of Chinese philosophy involved in Holistic Health, an educational philosophy for American medical schools that incorporates appropriate elements of Western and Eastern philosophy has been shown in the study to be necessary. The purpose of the study has been to identify such a philosophy. The study has been an historical analysis of Western and Eastern philosophies, including relationships between them, and examples of the effects of philosophy upon medicine in China and the United States. The study revealed that elements of three major Western philosophies have sufficient overlap with Chinese philosophy to be used, in synthesis, as a philosophical basis for Holistic Health education and practice. The Western philosophies of Pragmatism, Naturalism and Existentialism have been combined to form a educational philosophy for American medical schools. This hybrid philosophy has been named "Medical Holism." The ontology, epistemology, and axiology of Medical Holism have been discussed, and found to be eclectic in nature, a characteristic that is congruent with an holistic philosophy. Using the Taba-Tyler rationale, appropriate learning theories (psychologies) have been developed for Medical Holism. Further, the study has made recommendations for content and process changes in American medical school curricula that would reflect an educational philosophy of Medical Holism.

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