The work, life and influence of twentieth-century writers, including Walker Percy and Albert Camus, widely acclaimed for their novels that opened unique windows on the human soul and its challenges, have become the centerpieces of recent lectures given through the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV by the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society Speaker Series.
So does the legacy of the late John Wooden, who led the UCLA Bruins to 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships. These disparate influences were brought together at three conferences on Oct. 5 by Dr. Richard Gunderman, professor of medicine, liberal arts, and philanthropy at Indiana University and author of 15 books.
Dr Gary Shen, the school’s assistant dean for clinical teaching who serves as an advisor to the school’s AOA chapter, said bringing Gunderman to the school has given “our students one voice from another. point of view”.
Gunderman, who has become best known nationally for his frequent articles on medicine for The Atlantic, advocates that physicians can be more effective in patient care if they value human perspectives from data and external medical manuals.
He told Camus’s 1947 novel Plague, a book about an outbreak in the large Algerian city of Oran, offers lessons for the COVID pandemic and beyond. Camus lets us know, he said, that lessons from plagues and pandemics shouldn’t be limited to protocols and supplies. That instead, we must learn in our daily lives to express our care and concern for others, as Dr. Rieux, the hero of the novel, does.
Amalie Alver, a fourth-year medical student, who attended Gunderman’s three lectures, says his speech on the COVID pandemic, where he noted that loneliness had affected the emotional well-being of many Americans, reminded him how important it is to reach out to others. Researchers, she recalled, found even before the pandemic that loneliness and isolation are as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Gunderman was encouraged to see many Americans reaching out to others during the COVID pandemic. âWhat he had to say reminded me that I have to take the time to reach out to others,â Alver said. âIt really makes a difference in people’s lives. “
Writer Walker Percy, who received his medical degree in 1941, made it clear in his work: he won the National Book Award for The cinephile in 1962 – that he realized that there was more to “sickness and health, life and death, than what could be found in medical textbooks.”
In his last lecture at medical school, Gunderman suggested that students might want to adapt certain principles for a living, just like Wood did. The coach liked to say that when he graduated from eighth grade his father shared a seven point credo live according to what he strived to follow for the rest of his life. It included principles such as being true to yourself, helping others, and drinking deeply from good books.
âIn medicine, we always have a to-do list for our patients,â Shen said. âPatient A needs this and Patient A needs this. In our busy lives, it’s not a bad idea to have a living environment for our lives, to help us develop as a person.