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Interesting Class: Literature and Medicine

Zubair Mohammed
Department of Biology
Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

I want to be a doctor. If that statement applies to you then keep reading; even if it doesn’t, keep reading, too. Many people have a general perspective of doctors, somewhat comparable to modern gods who work miracles and save lives. Those things are true, except for the godly aspect. However, through their written stories and experiences, we can analyze their lives as health professionals and gain a better understanding of their roles and what ultimately awaits if we follow the medical path. This is the overarching goal of combining the two concepts literature and medicine: to dissect the life of a medical professional and the patient, to discuss the idea of a contagion and disease, and to help make your decision about dedicating your life to medicine.

I am trying to go to medical school; English is an integral part of medicine. I chose to be in the course Literature and Medicine as it seemed to offer me the best of both worlds, a medically-related English class. Contrary to my expectations of being a typical English class, the class proved to be anything but that; the daily discussions in Literature and Medicine are brought to life with the perfect range of texts that we study. From class discussions on Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway and Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm, the course’s diverse range of texts draw everyone in and can change your perspective.

On top of that, this class is multimedia; students are exposed to literature in different forms, including movies, and have the opportunity to discuss them in class. The analysis of movies, like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Contagion, show how healthcare plays a big role in keeping balance in spite of all the chaos that occurs around us, a major theme discussed throughout the course. Not surprisingly, doctors must be proficient in skills beyond the medical knowledge; themes such as bedside manner and people skills are also discussed in the course.

After discussions, students take what they learn and apply it by completing various paper prompts. With prompts like “Doctor vs. Patient” and comparing the literary effects of multiple works, students have the opportunity to see different sides of an argument and take a stance. In the end, a creative final project awaits as you get to create your own disease or take one from the past and explain the things you would see if it genuinely happened. This should be one of the most fun projects you will do in your college career as long as you pay attention in class and participate in the daily discussions.

Overall, I would recommend this class to any student who would like to pursue medicine as it opens your eyes to the reality of medicine and healthcare. I would like to go into the career I will be devoting my whole life to knowing that it is not sugar-coated. This class helps unveil the truth in the practice of medicine in a clear way. It has changed my perspective on what I want from medicine and the type of doctor I want to be; the class reassures your passion for medicine or makes you rethink pursuing the healthcare route. Professor Reedy has made it a fantastic experience and any student would be lucky to have her as a professor.


Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.

Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.