Community Invited to Celebrate the Life Dr. George Engel
Psychiatrist Pioneered New Way to Train Doctors
January 10, 2000
Friends and colleagues from across the country will congregate in Rochester to celebrate the life of George L. Engel, M.D., at a memorial service on January 29. The community is invited to attend the service to be held at 3 p.m. at the University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel on Wilson Boulevard, followed by a reception in the River Room of the Chapel. Dr. Engel, who died on November 26 at the age of 85, is widely known for bringing about a dramatic change in how doctors are taught to interact with their patients.
Engel joined the University of Rochester in 1946 where he pioneered a holistic educational model that stressed treating patients instead of just their diseases. The idea, called the biopsychosocial model, was a new concept back in a time when doctors were focusing on the biological and technical aspects of medicine while often ignoring health factors such as the patient's mental and emotional well being. Engel studied the impact psychological forces have on health and disease, and how the biology of illness likewise impacts human experience. His work added to the medical community's understanding how patients' backgrounds and lifestyles could affect their health status.
"His influence extends far beyond Rochester," said Edward Hundert, M.D., senior associate dean for Medical Education at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "Today the goal of almost every medical school is to train doctors to use Engel's biopsychosocial model."
In 1977, Engel published an article in the journal Science in which he detailed his concept of the biosychosocial model and challenged the traditional biomedical model by pointing out "the traditional model leaves no room within its framework for the social, psychological, and behavioral dimensions of illness."
Engel received the Albert David Kaiser Medal from the Rochester Academy of Medicine, a medal on which was inscribed, "Physician, psychiatrist, teacher and clinical scientist, he is foremost in his time in bringing together psychiatry and medicine."