The use of popular culture in medical and health education

Evie Kendal will be giving a presentation entitled The use of popular culture in medical and health education, which forms part of a Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science Learning and Teaching Research Grant.

Abstract: Why students opt to pursue medicine as a career has been the subject of much scholarly debate. Historically, theorists like G. S. Becker (1962) and Bernard Lentz and David Laband (1989) have attributed many cases to “human capital formation” within the family unit.[i] To summarise Lentz and Laband’s argument, the children of doctors experience an intergenerational transfer of career-specific human capital that a) motivates them to voluntarily pursue a career in medicine, and b) better prepares them for pursuing this course of study. While it may still be true that there are a disproportionate number of doctors’ children successfully applying to medical school in the 21st century, as in the 20th, the purpose of this project was to engage with other motivating factors that inspire students to enrol in medicine and allied health degrees. Specifically, we were interested in exploring the impact of popular culture on the perception of medical studies and careers, and whether this too may motivate and prepare future doctors and allied health professionals. If accepting that a parent can serve as a role model for a future doctor, it seems reasonable to hypothesise that a fictional character may function as a substitute role model for students who may not have doctors or health professionals in their families. Furthermore, we wanted to gauge our students’ exposure to popular medical television and their perception of its pedagogical value in medical education.

Evie has suggested two accompanying readings.
Czarny, M. et al. (2008) Medical and Nursing Students’ Television Viewing Habits: Potential Implications for Bioethics, The American Journal of Bioethics, 8(12): 1-8.
Weaver, R. & Wilson, I. (2011) Australian medical students’ perceptions of professionalism and ethics in medical television programs, BMC Medical Education, 11(50): http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/11/50.