Dr. Eric Cassell Receives 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Humanities from Baylor’s Medical Humanities Program
September 28, 2015
By Clarissa Guerrero and Lauren Barron, MD
Dr. Eric Cassell, physician, clinical professor, and author is the most recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Humanities, presented by Baylor University’s Medical Humanities Program.
“Dr. Cassell was chosen for this honor because of his outstanding contributions to the field of medical humanities,” said Lauren Barron, M.D., clinical professor and associate director of the Medical Humanities Program. “He has been a prolific contributor to many fields, including medical ethics, philosophy and the clinical practice of medicine. Few physicians have thought more deeply or written more articulately about the practice of medicine at its noblest and how a rich understanding of the humanities is necessary to take care of patients – in every sense of the word ‘care.’”
Dr. Cassell’s 3-day visit was a huge success during which he had the opportunity to meet with Baylor students, faculty, deans and Dr. Ed Trevathan, Baylor’s new provost. He also visited medical humanities and philosophy classes and participated in an afternoon seminar with faculty and graduate students from the department of philosophy.
After being presented with his award on Thursday evening, Dr. Cassell addressed an audience of over 200 on “The Place of the Humanities in Medicine”. He has spoken eloquently about the relationship of the humanities to medical practice.
“Medicine isn’t science--clinical medicine is about the care of the sick.
Dr. Cassell related that—surprisingly to some— He went on to say that what physicians are taught in medical school has mostly to do with pathophysiology, not with the person of the patient.
During his presentation, aphotosone of played in the background. Dr. Cassell took a photo of the patient at each clinic appointment, hospital visit and house call and was given permission by the patient and his family to share these images, which functioned as a constant reminder for the audience that these ideas matter and have real implications in the lives of the patients we care for.
“Dr. Cassell’s visit to the Baylor campus is quite an honor,” Dr. Barron said. “Having him here exposes the current generation of Baylor pre-health students to his work, his rich clinical experience, his engaging personality, his ready wit and sense of humor and the joy he has found in a lifetime of practicing medicine. I believe students will come away from their encounter with Dr. Cassell more educated and enlightened, more inspired and informed about the nature of clinical medicine and the challenges we face today.”
A graduate of the New York School of Medicine, Dr. Cassell trained in internal medicine at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and served as the U.S. Public Health Service Fellow in infectious disease in the department of public health of Cornell University Medical College. He has been published extensively and has had numerous clinical and academic appointments, including Emeritus Professor of Public Health at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Adjunct Professor of Medicine on the Faculty of Medicine McGill University and Attending Physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Cassell is a celebrated author with numerous books including “The Nature of Clinical Medicine,” “Doctoring: The Nature of Primary Care Medicine,” “Changing Values in Medicine,” “The Place of the Humanities in Medicine,” “Talking with Patients,” “The Healer’s Art” and “The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine.”