Medical Education and Training

In this lecture series, Professor Roger Kneebone explores nontraditional aspects of medical education and training through performance.

Medicine demands factual knowledge, physical skill and the ability to work with patients and colleagues. Most of the time clinicians learn from other clinicians, studying hard within a frame that discourages exploration outside medicine. Focusing on the performance of medicine challenges this frame by connecting with actors, musicians, craftsmen, dancers and other experts. Professor Kneebone explores the idea of frames, using illustrations to ask what benefits may result from thinking widely and challenging longstanding assumptions.

The consultation is the focal point of medicine. A clinician and a patient, held together in a relationship of care, collaborate in identifying that patient’s needs and finding a solution. Scientific knowledge and clinical skill only make sense in the context of that interaction. Each consultation is unique, a close-up live performance with a very small audience. After describing key elements of the consultation, an expert in a different kind of close-up live performance will be introduced - Will Houstoun, a leading magician. After watching Will perform, similarities and differences will be explored through conversation.

People often think that surgery is about the skill of a single surgeon. In fact, operations depend on teamwork, with nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and technicians all playing vital roles as they work together. Experts outside medicine need similar skills and have much to teach clinicians. Professor Kneebone introduces Rachel Warr, a leading puppeteer and dramaturg. After Rachel demonstrates how she and her colleagues bring puppets to life, we will discuss how her expertise in dexterity, teamworking and preparation for performance can shed light on the world of surgery.  

Touch is central to the performance of medicine. Traditionally, doctors depended on touch to diagnose illness. Revolutions in imaging technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence seem to reduce the need for physical examination. Yet touch is not only about gathering information but is how we express compassion and care. Professor Kneebone considers how ‘gnostic’ touch (identifying disease) and ‘pathic’ touch (conveying care) are becoming separated by technological developments and asks what we can do to ensure that touch remains central in connecting doctors and patients.

In this series