ETSU medical students develop film, book collection

April 10, 2009'

JOHNSON CITY – The Power of OneMy Own Country.  To Kill a Mockingbird.  Life as a House.  Mountains Beyond Wisdom. A Wrinkle in Time.  Doc Hollywood.  The Great Escape.  Kitchen Table Wisdom. 

For many, these are just book and film titles, but, to a group of students at East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine, they have an inspiring message that exemplifies the humanistic values of medicine.

These popular works are part of a new film and book collection that students in the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) at the Quillen College are unveiling this month at the ETSU Medical Library.

“The mission of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation is to perpetuate the tradition of the caring doctor by emphasizing the relationship between the physician and the patient,” said Dr. Ramsey McGowen, ETSU professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and GHHS faculty advisor.  “Compassion and altruism are two values that are crucial to being an effective physician, and one way for our students to observe these examples is through literature and film.”

According to McGowen, the students selected one book and one movie each that influenced them and their commitment to humanistic values in the field of medicine. Included with the titles are a summary and a brief essay written by the students that explains how this particular work deepened their appreciation for what it means to be a compassionate caregiver.

But not all of the books and movies are about medicine.

Erin Jackson and Chris Cropsey, both fourth-year students at Quillen, selected Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a story about a lawyer who defends an African American man accused of a violent crime in the Deep South during the 1930s.

“Atticus Finch was a lawyer who put aside any personal beliefs he may have had about a person in order to be by their side and help them during a difficult time,” said Jackson, a GHHS officer who helped organize the collection.  “He illustrated what it means to see things from another person’s point of view, which, in turn, emphasizes to us the importance of looking at a situation from a patient’s perspective.”

Cropsey added:  “He (Finch) was a man of great character and integrity who became the voice of someone who had been rejected by society.  His compassion for others is inspiring and is an outstanding example to those of us who are dedicating our career to caring for others.”

Funding for the collection was made possible through a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

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