Dream Schools

The François Rabelais School of Medicine

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7327.1456 (Published 22 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1456
  1. Jeremy Anderson, director
  1. Centre for Clinical Effectiveness, Monash Institute of Health Services Research, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia

    The Christmas issue contains three people's description of their ideal medical school.

    Read the descriptions:

    • Renaissance School of Medicine, p 1454

    • François Rabelais School of Medicine, p 1456

    • Confucius School of Medicine, p 1458

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    The Rabelais School will produce graduates who are as comfortable in the shit as they are in the stars—and understand that the pathology they observe in humanity is equally present in themselves

    This medical school takes François Rabelais (c 1494-1553), Franciscan monk, Bachelor of Medicine, and humanist, as its muse. Although his inspirational work Gargantua and Pantagruel celebrates his abilities as a satirist and misogynist, his role as an educationalist has been overlooked. “He was a man intoxicated by every sort of learning and theory,” according to one translator, “who, at the same time, had the earthy common sense of a peasant.”1 In an increasingly divided world, with medicine increasingly preoccupied by technical elitism, Rabelais stands as a cogent model.

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    A Gargantuan project

    The Rabelais School follows the “mischievous rascal” tendency of scientific humanism, through Voltaire (“The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the …

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