Adele Wolfson Pens Essay For Inside Higher Ed On The Importance of Science in PreMedical Education

September 17, 2015
Quote in white text on blue and red field by Wellesley's Adele Wolfson says "we must stop treating the arts and sciences as mutually exclusive"

Adele Wolfson, Nan Walsh Schow and Howard B. Schow Professor of Physical and Natural Sciences and interim dean of students, recently penned an essay for Inside Higher Ed advocating for balanced education for premedical students and warning against shifting too far away from science training for future doctors. The piece, titled "Science Matters," was published on August 27.

Wolfson has been teaching biochemistry to medical and undergraduate students for over 30 years. In the essay, she explained that premedical students today are expected to learn people skills, but that the emphasis on these skills has grown. Some students, she wrote, are even "playing down their science credentials in favor of their relational skills" in medical school interviews. Further, some medical schools have begun recruiting humanities majors, and requiring fewer science courses for those students than for the typical applicant, because they are thought to bring different strengths to the field. "This move is well intended," Wolfson wrote, "but it misses the point."

Wolfson, along with Lee Cuba, professor of sociology, and Alexandra Day '15 recently published a study of science majors at liberal arts colleges. Their primary finding was that science majors who took many courses outside of the sciences were better able to make connections among disciplines. "A strong liberal arts education in both the arts and sciences provides the most effective preparation for the medical profession," Wolfson wrote.

"If we want knowledgeable and competent doctors who are also well-rounded and compassionate individuals, we must stop treating the arts and sciences as mutually exclusive," she wrote. "Medical schools would do better to recruit broadly educated science students who bring the complementary strengths of integration among disciplines and a deep grounding in the process of scientific discovery and analysis to their study and practice of medicine."

Read the full essay, "Science Matters," on the Inside Higher Ed website.