History has largely been neglected in medical education, taking a back seat to the ever expanding fields of genomics and immunology, among others. The four year curriculum is further constrained as newer scientific fields discover more information. However, as this article emphasizes, history can teach students about the 'cultural, economic, an political processes' that affect health.
Heath and medicine do not operate in a vacuum. Therefore, history can equip future doctors to decide diagnoses with 'incomplete knowledge', and reflect on the 'forces that shape ethical judgments' over time. Historical training will lead to more critical thinking skills as students study the interaction of health, populations, institutions, norms, and laws over time.
In a time where certain medical processes are under threat of criminalization, and cultural norms are pushing back again sex and gender binaries, history may be more valuable than ever in understanding how medical practices and knowledge interact with larger society and evolve over time, as well as the importance of considering health's impact in broader contexts.
Medical knowledge itself–firmly grounded in science as it may be — is nonetheless the result of specific cultural, economic, and political processes. What we discover in the future will depend on what research we fund now, what rules we set for the approval of new remedies, and what markets we envisage for future therapies. History provides perspective on the contingency of knowledge production and circulation, fostering clinicians’ ability to tolerate ambiguity and make decisions in the setting of incomplete knowledge.