Contemplating medicine during the third reich: Scaffolding professional identity formation for medical students

Shmuel P. Reis*, Hedy S. Wald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Problem The moral failures of physicians and the medical establishment in Germany and Austria during the Third Reich challenge medicine and medical education in a way few other events do. They compel medical educators to ensure that lessons learned from contemplating medicine during the Third Reich be integrated into current and future physicians' professional identities. Most health professions education programs, however, have not adopted this study domain in their curricula. Approach The authors describe a new curriculum module - "The Holocaust and Medicine" - and its implementation in October 2013 at Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Safed, Israel, as a requirement for all medical students (starting with the class of 2017). This innovative module integrates historical facts, guided reflection, flipped classroom pedagogy, and program evaluation efforts. It spans 20 months of the preclinical curriculum, embedded within a doctoring course and a medical humanities longitudinal course and integrated within the clinical sciences blocks. Outcomes The evaluation approach will seek to measure changes in learners' knowledge and attitudes, capture their experience with the module, and assess the module's contribution to their identities as future healers. Next Steps This module aims to sensitize learners to medicine's fundamental dilemmas (e.g., prejudice, assisted reproduction and suicide, physicians in war), ideally enhancing critical reflection on the potential danger of "slippery slopes." The authors propose that contemplation of medicine after the Holocaust and the implications for contemporary practice should be an integral component of health professions education to promote humanistic, ethically responsible practice.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)770-773
Number of pages4
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges.


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