An English Prof and a Pediatrician Walk into a Bar…

January 8, 2013

Screenshot_1_7_13_10_21_AM-2Today marked the first class of Medicine in the Age of Networked Intelligence, a Rice University course (English 278) that I’m co-teaching with my Medical Futures Lab partner-in-crime, Kirsten Ostherr, PhD.

Our course examines how developments in mobile, social, personal and global health are transforming research, communication, and medical practice.  Topics of focus include social media, mHealth, quantified self, big data, ethics, and the evolving doctor-patient relationship.  The course is open and relevant to any Rice student interested in understanding how culture and health communication have changed in the networked age.

Here’s the best part: a significant portion of the course grade will be dependent upon publicly created content (written and video) and conversation centered on our reading and class discussions.  At the end of the class they will be required to generate a synthesis/summary of their online portfolio.  Some of our students will be attending the Health 2.0 Houston launch to interview some of our local 2.0 luminaries.  Follow their progress on the class Tumblr where their creation, curation and comments will live (look for student posts beginning in about 2 weeks).  And please comment as things evolve.  We’re counting on dialog with you as a means of understanding the emerging role of public thinking.

So what’s a pediatrician doing teaching an English class at Rice University?  And what’s an English Professor doing thinking about technology, media and the future of medicine?  Quite a bit, actually.  We believe that the solutions to medicine’s most pressing issues can be found in the collaborative experiences of non-traditional stakeholders.  This is the thinking behind our Medical Futures Lab, a collaborative project involving Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and UT Health Science Center.

Wish me luck.  I’ll be writing about my experience teaching college students here, on the Networked Intelligence Tumblr and over on the MFL site.

The woodcut illustration above was created by Matthia Qualle in 1510 and published in 1513.  Latin notations indicate specific areas of the brain and their corresponding senses.  The is in the public domain and is courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.


Mark Harmel January 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

How great. I wish I had a class like this in my program. Can I participate on-line?

DrV January 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Classes not live. Our Tumblr will be active with student posts, etc.

Perhaps it will emerge as a MOOC.

Jody Schoger January 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I can’t wait to watch this unfold. It’s at the intersection of everything I enjoy.

- jody

kgapo January 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

That’s phantastic! So the internet and its use via various platforms sneaks its way to Medical Schools…
I also can’t wait to see how the course evolves…As your post has given me ideas, I will email it to Professors of Social Medicine (unfortunately the academics here are not so “social”!) here who attempt to introduce courses on patient-doctor relationship and other social aspects of being a doctor (including inviting patient advocates to give a pres. and speak with the students) and to an English teacher who teaches English medical terminology to med students and doctors at the Seminar of Foreign Languages at the Athens Univ.

DrV January 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Thank you, K. And if any of the profs want to chat, just email me at fox42 AT me dot com.

James Borton January 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Dr. V, This is outstanding. I admire this techno interdisciplinary approach. My plan is also to produce an online Narrative Medicine course this semester and welcome your views and others. Best, James Borton. PS My new anthology, The Art of Medicine in Metaphors in available on Amazon.

Kirsten Ostherr January 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I’m thrilled to be team-teaching with you, Bryan! This is a new model for pre-med education that can scale up to medical school, residency, CMEs and beyond: the digital medical humanities.

Kathryn Bowsher January 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

This is great. If you create a list for MOOC notification, please put me on it.

Raymond Cattaneo January 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm

So excited to see this unfold. I’m sure the student creations will be just as invigorating as your experiences during this class! Good luck!

Jessica Schumer January 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I wish I were back at Rice now as an undergrad! I would have totally taken this course. Looking forward to participating virtually!

Linda Pourmassina January 9, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I have to echo everyone else and say this is great. Can’t think of a better person to tackle this. Looking forward to hearing more about it, and I wish I could be a fly on those classroom walls.

Jenn Kramer January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I am also very excited by what you’re pioneering, and will be eager to follow the experience on Tumblr. I will be especially curious to see what challenges present themselves in the midst of online collaboration; collaborative medical research seems to be an area where participants are hesitant to embrace emergent online technologies that could facilitate partnerships (and innovation). Again, very excited by the envelope you’re pushing. Best wishes!

Carmen Gonzalez January 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Kudos to you and Dr. Ostherr. I wholeheartedly hope that the insights you gain support future possibilities for a medical school course on the same subject matter. I love your pioneering spirit!

Please consider summarizing your academic experiment into a session for next year’s SXSW conference. This is practical and noteworthy.

Stephen Huey January 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

Thanks for helping to build bridges between Rice and the med center! Looking forward to listening to you at the Health 2.0 launch.

ProKPR January 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

I think you will do fine. Break a leg. I won’t say good luck because you are performing, although at a collegiate level, it’s still a performance. Looking forward to seeing how it all goes.

Previous post:

Next post: