The RSM medical humanities conference: Physician resilience and compassionate practice


Monday 5 October 2015

Half Day

Venue Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
Organised by

Open Section


3 CPD points

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about this event

Don’t miss the RSM’s Open Section medical humanities conference which will focus on the relationships between literature, the humanities and healthcare.

Featuring renowned speakers in healthcare, literature and psychology, the day meeting will give delegates the opportunity to learn more about how the humanities has impacted medicine, plus there will be an opportunity to participate in a live discussion with Samuel Shem, one of literary medicine’s best known surviving authors. 

Highlights include:

  • The opportunity to hear from author Samuel Shem who will discuss his literary and academic work, and raise questions with the author
  • The role of the theatre in medical education
  • Staying human in medicine – lessons for clinician resilience and compassionate practice
  • How literature has impacted medicine and vice versa
  • The opportunity to meet and network with colleagues with an interest in the medical humanities

A message from Samuel Shem:

Since The House of God, I have devoted my writing and living to address the topic of physician resilience and compassionate care. Simply put, it's 'the risk of isolation, and the healing power of good connection.'

What’s good connection? We know it when we sense it - the 'click' that jolts us into the here and now, beyond ourselves yet more ourselves, with. In a 'mutual' encounter, each person feels more zest-energy, more knowledge of self and other, more sense of worth, more empowered to act, and a desire for more connection. Power is not in one person or another, but arises in their connecting - note the gerund.

Compassion and resilience co-arise. Nobody gets it right all the time - with patient or loved one. It's not just what we do, it's what we do next. Thus the path from suffering to compassion.

For us doctors, if we're in good connection, we not only feel energized, we're more empowered to act, we’re better doctors. Thus, resilience.


1.30 pm

Registration, tea and coffee

2.00 pm

Welcome and introduction

Dr Andrew Papanikitas, Immediate Past President, Open Section and Academic Clinical Lecturer in General Practice, University of Oxford

Chair: Dr Andrew Papanikitas

2.10 pm

The theatre in medical education

Professor Deborah Bowman, Professor of Bioethics, St George’s Medical School and Editor, Journal of Medical Humanities, “Medical education at the theatre: Lessons for clinician resilience and compassionate practice”

2.50 pm

Dramatic reading, excerpt from “Bill W and Dr Bob”

Dr Samuel Shem and Dr Janet Surrey, Authors, “Bill W and Dr Bob”

3.00 pm

Bill W and Dr Bob and The Buddha’s Wife: The healing power of good connection

Dr Samuel Shem and Dr Janet Surrey Author, Clinical Psychologist, Founding Scholar, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Wellesley Centers for Women and Faculty and Board Member, Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy

3.45 pm

Tea and coffee break

Chair: Dr Emma McKenzie-Edwards, Tutor in General Practice, Hertford College, Oxford

4.05 pm

Two critical doctor-novelists in the turmoil of the mid-twentieth century

Dr Iain Bamforth, Independent Scholar, Physician and Writer, “The novel and medical culture: Lessons for clinician resilience and compassionate practice"

4.45 pm

Staying human in medicine: From “The House of God, through “Mount Misery” and “The Spirit of the Place,” to “The Buddha’s Wife.”

Dr Samuel Shem

5.45 pm

Panel discussion

Chair: Professor Brian Hurwitz

6.00 pm

Completion of evaluation forms and close of meeting

6.15 pm

Drinks reception

6.50 pm

Optional dinner

Pre-registration is required

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  • Online registration for this meeting is now closed
  • Places are available for on the day booking


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organiser's details

For information on this event, contact Hatty GrantTel: 020 7290 2984 Fax: 020 7290 2992 Email: arrow