This year, the medical school is offering a new course in the “Principles of Clinical Reasoning,” a day-long session in the fall, followed by four workshops throughout the year. This course takes the kind of material that traditionally follows medical school and residency training and places it at the beginning of the educational process.

It asks students to think deeply about the most important questions that face clinicians: How can we gauge our effectiveness as doctors? How can we stretch the limits of our healing ability? In the inaugural lecture, Professor Alvan Feinstein, M.D., portrayed clinical medicine as a humanistic science. Every act of patient care, he told the students, is analogous to an experiment, but an artful, humanistic experiment. “Human beings,” he said, “are the only subject that talks and can let us know what’s going on.”