Shakespeare for Doctors

This column is about the benefits of reading Shakespeare and is written with medical students, doctors, and scientists in mind. Reading Shakespeare’s verse drama trains reading skills, in the broadest sense of the word “reading.” Reading well means doing active thinking, questioning, and imagining, which are the same skills involved in reading a complex patient, or an elusive scientific problem. Shakespeare offers excellent plays for practicing these skills outside the clinic or laboratory, and my goal is to give examples of how I read his verse drama — each installment will focus on one play.

Tony Sun Tony Sun (2 Posts)

Columnist

Weill Cornell Medical College


Tony Sun is an MD-PhD student at Cornell Medical College. He completed his BA in English literature at Washington University in St. Louis. Tony read Shakespeare unenthusiastically in high school, but he reread and rediscovered Shakespeare in college and has since remained committed to a lifelong appreciation of imaginative literature.

Shakespeare for Doctors

This column is about the benefits of reading Shakespeare and is written with medical students, doctors, and scientists in mind. Reading Shakespeare’s verse drama trains reading skills, in the broadest sense of the word “reading.” Reading well means doing active thinking, questioning, and imagining, which are the same skills involved in reading a complex patient, or an elusive scientific problem. Shakespeare offers excellent plays for practicing these skills outside the clinic or laboratory, and my goal is to give examples of how I read his verse drama — each installment will focus on one play.




Henry VI, Part One: Piecing a Patient History Together

Picture the following two scenarios: The funeral procession of Henry V passes through Westminster Abbey, and the following remark is made: “The King from Eltham I intend to steal, / And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.” The second scenario is a physician who goes into an exam room and hears the patient talking about his “stomach pain,” intake of “spicy foods,” and his “use of Advil for headache relief.” These are two entirely unrelated scenarios, yes, but the shared theme is that both dialogues contain important clues to a bigger picture.

Poetry for Medical Students

When my classmates ask me to recommend poems for reading, I am always thrilled to share my favorite poems. After sharing, I sometimes ask myself the following questions: What am I recommending exactly? How can reading poetry benefit my classmates? How has reading poetry helped me, if it even has? These are important questions to think about, particularly when thinking about how to prioritize reading poetry alongside other activities; this would not be unlike using triage to assign priority for treatments.

Tony Sun Tony Sun (2 Posts)

Columnist

Weill Cornell Medical College


Tony Sun is an MD-PhD student at Cornell Medical College. He completed his BA in English literature at Washington University in St. Louis. Tony read Shakespeare unenthusiastically in high school, but he reread and rediscovered Shakespeare in college and has since remained committed to a lifelong appreciation of imaginative literature.

Shakespeare for Doctors

This column is about the benefits of reading Shakespeare and is written with medical students, doctors, and scientists in mind. Reading Shakespeare’s verse drama trains reading skills, in the broadest sense of the word “reading.” Reading well means doing active thinking, questioning, and imagining, which are the same skills involved in reading a complex patient, or an elusive scientific problem. Shakespeare offers excellent plays for practicing these skills outside the clinic or laboratory, and my goal is to give examples of how I read his verse drama — each installment will focus on one play.