Book Review – Teaching Medicine and Medical Ethics Using Popular Culture

by @edent | # # # # #

Surgeons standing over a body.

This book demonstrates how popular culture can be successfully incorporated into medical and health science curriculums, capitalising on the opportunity fictional media presents to humanise case studies. Studies show that the vast majority of medical and nursing students watch popular medical television dramas and comedies such as Grey’s Anatomy, ER, House M.D. and Scrubs.

This book is currently free on the Springer website – and it’s a brilliant read.

I thought this was going to be an “Everything I know about X, I learned from watching Y” type book. You know, Philosphy/Buffy, Physics/Doctor Who, Law/The Bill. But it isn’t!

It’s a thorough look at whether people learn about medicine via popular media (they do!). It also covers what they learn and how it can be misleading. There’s a great discussion about the medical ethics shown on TV and how that influences clinicians to behave.

I found it fascinating just how deep our prejudices go – even when discussing fictional characters.

There were also eight mentions that a character was overly emotional, annoying or ‘whiny,’ but these criticisms were exclusively directed at female characters.

And, while we’re living in the age of pandemic, there’s a nice little look to the future:

When looking at release dates we realised there was a possible link between ‘zombification’ cause and global health events.
To test our hypothesis, we mapped the year of release of pathogenic zombie films against the World Health Organization’s list of infectious disease outbreaks. This demonstrated a correlation between the two, with an increase in the release of infectious biohorror films in the years following outbreaks such as SARS and pandemic influenza . So it appeared that global health threats have an impact on pop-culture media. This is also reported in the literature, where horror films are identified as a barometer of society’s fears, anxieties and cultural consciousness.

An excellent and timely collection of essays.

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