Workshops in Healing for Senior Medical Students: A 5 Year Experience


  • John Henry Kearsley St. George Hospital, Sydney University of NSW, Sydney
  • Elizabeth Lobb Calvary Healthcare Sydney Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care, Darlinghurst University of Notre Dame, Sydney



Medical Students, Workshops in Healing


Objectives:  To provide a 5-year (2008-2012) overview and appraisal of a novel course for senior undergraduate medical students (Workshops in Healing) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia within the context of a traditional 6-year curriculum.  In these innovative workshops, 8-12 self-selected students per year participate over 6 hours in two sessions, several days apart.  The sessions use artwork and other evocative images, poetry, music, statues and classic/contemporary literature to illustrate points of discussion relating to suffering, healing and the doctor-patient relationship. 

Methods: A written open-ended reflection was requested from 48 students in the final year of their 6-year medical course within a few weeks of the second workshop.  The study employed an emergent qualitative design.  Open coding involved repeated reading of the sections of the student’s feedback and a line-by-line analysis of this data.  Selective coding was then used to link data together and develop the themes.

Results:  Students identified the following benefits from the workshops:  1)  the opportunity to re-affirm their commitment to their chosen career path;  2)  the value of listening to other students share their stories;  3)  the importance of the timing of the Workshops to occur after exams;  4)  the use of various mediums such as art,  music and literature to present concepts of suffering and healing;  and 5) the creation of a safe and confidential space.

Conclusions:  Students reported that the workshops gave them a renewed sense of drive and enthusiasm for their chosen career.  They highlighted the importance of addressing an aspect of Medicine (healing) not covered in the traditional medical curriculum.  For many students the workshops provided a broader understanding of the meaning of concepts such as suffering and healing, and helped them to rediscover a deeper meaning to Medicine, and their roles as healthcare professionals.

Author Biography

John Henry Kearsley, St. George Hospital, Sydney University of NSW, Sydney

Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, UNSW

Director of Radiation Oncology, St. George Hospital, Kogarah



How to Cite

Kearsley, J. H., & Lobb, E. (2014). Workshops in Healing for Senior Medical Students: A 5 Year Experience. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1(1).

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