Is Medical Academia repeating Academia’s history? In a recent essay in a small-circulation, specialized periodical, Academic Questions, Prof. John M. Ellis, emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, recounts the past 4-5 decades of changes in liberal arts departments in US colleges. (How Preferences Have Corrupted Higher Education, Acad Quest, 2008; 21(2):265-274) One modern academic controversy not needing recounting is the takeover of liberal arts departments by post-modernist theology and the partial takeover of universities themselves by radical politics dating from the 1960s. But as recounted by Prof. Ellis, the fifty-year metamorphosis has not only changed universities, but has produced a branching network of intended and unintended consequences.
We have noted before that medicine is both a science and a practice that reflects current social attitudes and mores. (I minimize the aliquot of art, persisting from prior centuries; cultural influences being a more accurate term.) But the changes in universities now reflect in the normative thinking and mores of the modern medical school – at least a nucleus of them. Thus Dr. Ellis’s observations may be a metaphor or template for a medicine of the next several decades.