Teaching anthropology in the medical curriculum

Joseph A. Carrese, Patricia A. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Practicing medicine well requires recognizing the breadth of human experience and attending to the psychological and sociocultural dimensions of patients as well as their physical needs. Central to the concerns of anthropology are the shared beliefs and values expressed in social practices and traditions that give meaning to everyday life. The relevance of anthropology for biomedical practice and research is grounded in the discipline's emphasis on contextual meaning and its unique strategies for data gathering. In this article, we briefly review the field of anthropology and the discipline of medical anthropology. We argue for incorporating anthropological concepts and methods in medical training, and summarize anthropology's role in medical education over the past century. Finally, we present ideas for including anthropology in the medical curriculum, proposing curricular goals and content, and teaching settings and techniques. An anthropological orientation can foster trainee self-awareness, help trainees prepare for the diverse perspectives they will encounter in our pluralistic society, and facilitate critical analysis of biomedicine and its systems of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • Anthropology
  • Cultural diversity
  • Curriculum
  • Medical education
  • Social sciences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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