Cecil Steiner was initially unable to be admitted to the Angle School of Orthodontia because he did not know who Charles Darwin was. However, this failure did not prevent him from trying again and ultimately becoming a great orthodontist. He demonstrated tolerance, resilience, and perseverance. Humanistic medical teaching seeks to enhance these and other human values, attitudes, and behaviors in the clinician, which are fundamental to achieve patient-centered care.
Allareddy et al, in their October 2019 article (Allareddy V, Shin K, Marshall SD, Southard TE. Characteristics of an excellent orthodontic residency program. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2019; 156: 522-30), identify features of a high-quality orthodontic residency program from the perspective of educators. However, the development of professionalism and humanism were not included in the criteria. The orthodontist should not only be an expert in the use of diverse treatment modalities and the latest technology, but he or she must also manifest honesty, empathy, compassion, altruism, and respect to the dignity and beliefs of the patients and their families.
Carl Rogers, who is considered the father of humanistic psychology, held that for a person to achieve self-actualization, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. These are the key traits of the most effective teachers. The student-centered approach highlights the importance of developing interpersonal skills through experiential, flexible, autonomous, and active learning in reciprocal relation between tutor and learner. One of the barriers in postgraduate education is disruptive behavior that causes poor interpersonal relationships and leads to suboptimal patient care.
Sir William Osler said, “The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.” Thus, the true art in orthodontic care is to establish a cooperative relationship with the patient through effective communication, critical thinking, and empathetic behavior. It is necessary to incorporate humanism in the training of an orthodontist through a student-centered environment that supports the acquisition of professional values.
∗ The viewpoints expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of the editor(s), publisher(s), or Association.