We need human-based medicine in conjunction with evidence-based medicine. If we only identify as scientists and not as healers, we risk dehumanizing our patients and ourselves.
Lifelong Learning in Clinical Excellence | August 8, 2019 | 2 min read
By David Kopacz, MD, University of Washington
I have been working with holistic models of understanding what it means to be a whole person to help re-humanize the practice of medicine. In my first book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, I adapted a nine-dimensional model of what it means to be human. As healers, we must develop these dimensions within ourselves before we can address these dimensions in our patients. We cannot give to another what we have not first grown within ourselves.
Here are a few ideas from my book that you may find useful in your clinical practice:
The idea of a counter-curriculum is that the healer must continue to renew their own soul, their own connection to the source of healing, in order to be both a healer and a scientist. If we only identify with ourselves as scientists and not healers, we risk dehumanizing ourselves and our patients.
The idea of a compassion revolution, is the idea that there are many people and organizations within healthcare working to bring compassion back into medicine to counter-balance our evidence-based technicial abilities. We need human-based medicine in conjunction with our evidence-based medicine
Figure 3 Caring for Self and Others Circle from Re-humanizing Medicine, David R. Kopacz, (2014).
Using the Circle of Caring for ourselves and others
This is the work of developing a personalized counter-curriculum. To represent the whole person, I use these nine different dimensions as a model.
You can list each of these human domains out on a piece of paper: body, emotions, mind, heart, creative self-expression, intuition, spirit, context, and time. Are there places you are struggling or neglecting? What can you do to invest in your full humanity by creating a counter-curriculum to re-humanize each of these nine different dimensions? Come up with your own, personal ideas, but here are a few suggestions:
Body: taking a walk, going to the gym, doing a body scan, taking a yoga or tai chi class
Emotions: doing reflective writing/journaling, talking with a friend, making space to feel
Mind: mindfulness meditation (observing, not attaching to thoughts), being present, examining your ideas about life
Heart: engaging in a gratitude practice, doing lovingkindness meditation, playing with pets or children
Creativity: writing, painting, singing, dancing, committing to a weekly practice or class
Intuition: taking time to daydream, starting a dream journal, relaxing your mind to let intuition blossom
Spirit: attending formal worship, engaging in informal practice, connecting to something larger
Context: building relationships, creating a healthy living space, being in nature
Time: reflecting on your life, goals, dreams, stage of life, where are you going, where have you been?