A model for educating humanistic physicians in the 21st century: The new Medicine, Patient, and Society course at Tel Aviv University

Jeffrey M. Borkan*, Michael A. Weingarten, Eva Schlank, Judi Fadlon, Shimon Kornitzer, Nette Notzer, Ronen Aviram, Henry Abramovitch, Sue Lehmann, Naomi Smidt-Afek, Menahem Fainaru

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The impact of the social and behavioral sciences on medical education has often been limited due to a variety of organizational, curricular and professional barriers. The new "Medicine, Patient, and Society (MPS)" program in Tel Aviv attempts to rectify this educational shortcoming by exploring new ways to help students acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed for becoming humanistic physicians and for helping patients (and themselves) adopt healthy behaviors. To work toward this goal, this program integrates the biomedical and psychosocial aspects of health care, providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences according to levels of training, together with a variety of educational methods, including learner-centered approaches. Objectives: To implement and evaluate the MPS pilot program. Methods: The MPS program uses a "seamless" model of behavioral science education. This integrated curriculum interweaves several elements: behavioral science topics (presented through multiple approaches), clinical experiences, practical medical skills, and an independent project. During the program's first year there is a strong focus on "health" rather than "disease," with activities designed to encourage healthy behaviors, including smoking cessation, stress management, birth control, AIDS education, life cycle and preventive health services. Assessment of the pilot for first-year students included standardized questionnaires, student focus groups, participant observation of educational activities, and committee feedback. Results: Students' quantitative evaluations indicated high levels of satisfaction with the MPS program, but their qualitative evaluations revealed some concerns. Participant observations and focus groups added unexpected insights. Student concerns included performance fears, difficulties with "learner-centered" education, and incompatibilities between more traditional first-year courses and the MPS program. Long-term follow-up will be needed to determine the impact of this emphasis on health during the first year. We assume it serves as a helpful foundation for students before they focus on disease and its sequelae in their later years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
Number of pages10
JournalEducation for Health: Change in Learning and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Behavioral science
  • Clinical exposure
  • Curriculum reform
  • Seamlessness


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