In his book Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, David Kopacz, MD explains how US healthcare has gotten to the point where humanism in medicine has been depleted and pushed aside, while technology has seen an explosion in both importance and innovation. This book proposes a very real set of instructions on how to reinstate humanism– personally, in practice, and in the greater healthcare community.
Kopacz presents numerous examples in which the technical, financial, and scientific aspects of medicine have led to detached and de-humanized practice. For example, recent focus on costs and other economic aspects of medicine have lead to a pay structure where spending extra time with a patient fiscally irresponsible. And the trend of subspecialization requires highly coordinated care that is not currently being provided.
Kopacz addresses the difficulty in improving the quality of healthcare without simultaneously making economic and biomedical sacrifices. His answer to today’s system is a composite framework he labels “holistic medicine” which considers health in broader terms. Kopacz posits that we can piece the human patient back together from the current dismembered, subspecialized, detached state. Along with the ten founding principles of humanistic medicine, Kopacz presents an original nine-dimensional framework on what makes up a human being, all of which must be acknowledged and understood to practice real holistic medicine.
In the instructional portion of his work, Kopacz offers three levels on which we must reinstate humanism:
- Personal setting: Before one can set off trying to fix the world with holistic medicine, one must start with himself. Kopacz shares specific exercises corresponding with each of the ten principles of holistic medicine. Exercises range in intensity from simple thinking exercises to cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Medical setting: Kopacz affirms a potential for holistic and humanistic advocacy and action in all roles within the medical field. He gives specific instructions on how and where physician autonomy can be utilized to work in holism into the medical field.
- Leadership setting: Compassionate leadership must begin with internal leadership, and transcend all levels of medicine. It is through advocacy, mindfulness and active compassion, that holistic leadership can shape and eventually revolutionize medicine.
Re-Humanizing Medicine thoroughly addresses a rather intimidating issue, breaking it down into practical, doable steps. His frequent use of personal experience adds interesting narrative and his language is simple (making instructions easy to follow). Overall, Kopacz succeeds in convincing his audience to follow his lead, to lift medicine out of the trend of dehumanization and reclaim its purpose.
Melissa Notis is a 2014 graduate of Emory University where she majored in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. In addition to her work at the Gold Foundation, Melissa works as a Medical Tech at an ophthalmology practice in Springfield, NJ. Melissa hopes to attend medical school in the future, and wants to continue her connection with the Gold Foundation throughout her medical career.