Dear Governor Ducey,
When I was driving down to Tucson, I couldn’t listen to the SiriusXM anymore. 4 hours is not such a long drive but not such a short drive either. I wanted to talk to someone and my mom had company in town, so she was busy. (I usually call her on my long drives). If I couldn’t talk to someone, perhaps someone could talk to me. I had to scan the radio for fifteen minutes before I found NPR. Public radio transmits the quietest signal. It’s easy to figure out which station is NPR thanks to NPR voice, which I finally did find and heard an excellent story on All Things Considered called “A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements to Lure English Majors.”
Mount Sinai medical school wants to diversify the kinds of people who become doctors. The pre-med student tends to be cookie-cutter. They wanted students with diverse backgrounds who read books because they were empathetic, who wrote papers because they wanted to diagnose the patterns behind an author’s strategy, who communicated well because they wrote and wrote and wrote in their creative writing classes. This story made me cry. I always wanted to be a doctor and a writer, like William Carlos Williams. But I tend to follow the path of least resistance and there was a lot of resistance by my young college-self to making it to Intro to Biology at 8 a.m. But Mount Sinai says that O-chem is really not that useful for most kinds of medicine. That the science you need for medical school can be trained in a first few years. It’s the quality of your study habits that can make or break you in med school.
With the new tenure plan in Wisconsin, humanities professors are freaking out. If programs can be deleted, and tenured faculty fired, due to “program needs,” the current zeitgeist about Humanities programs is, “who needs them?” Well, it turns out Mount Sinai needs them. English majors in particular.
That the “business world,” if you count the health care industry to be a business, needs humanities major, might be a reason to rethink gutting humanities programs—but that’s why they usually let the board of regents and the provosts, not the legislature decide what programs are necessary—because rethinking isn’t usually the purview of those with an ideological mindset to break the system that threatens to defy them.
Still, I guess if Arizona follows Wisconsin (which I think it hopes to. The Koch Brothers have an office even in relatively liberal Flagstaff!), I can always call Mount Sinai to see if my English PhD will count as a prerequisite for med school.