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MEDICAL HUMANITIES

NARRATIVE MEDICINE, MEDICAL ETHICS, and MORE

Medical Humanities introduces students to the historical, philosophical, literary and ethical issues of medicine in the past and today. As medicine today extends human life and physical capability, it brings with it difficult questions of value (questions of purpose, meaning, judgment, and action) about the alteration of the body, the unequal distribution of care, disability, and the end of life. For this reason, leading physicians and institutions worldwide have called for the urgent return of the humanities to medical education and practice.

What do the humanities--history, philosophy, and the study of art and culture--have to do with medicine? Turns out, a lot. Every patient has a story, and good diagnosis requires an understanding of how stories work. It also requires a sense of humility about the history of medicine and cultural competence--an awareness of the way that cultural norms influence the understanding and treatment of illness. Like good literary critics, good physicians and health care providers must be astute and sensitive readers—attuned their own biases, aware that cultural assumptions always shape interpretations, sometimes leading to bias or error.

The practice of medicine and the giving of care, therefore, cannot simply rest on scientific expertise. This is why medical schools are creating medical humanities programs and seeking applicants steeped in history, literature, philosophy, and culture. “Education in the humanities,” notes Lloyd Minor, Dean of Stanford University Medical School, “is important preparation for a career in medicine.”  The converse is also true. For students of the humanities, encounters with disability, illness, and mortality remind us of essential features of human being.  They are perennial themes of great literature.  Medical humanities courses are designed both for humanities students interested in health and illness and for pre-medical and nursing students seeking a deeper engagement with the literature of medicine, the ethics of caregiving, the history of cultural maladies and their treatment, and the human experience of illness, disability, and healing.

After a popular and successful Altman Program on Medicine and the Humanities, a group of four faculty members developed a new Medical Humanities Minor in the summer of 2018.  Led by Cindy Klestinec (English), the group included Kimberly Hamlin (American Studies and History), Cameron Hay Rollins (Anthropology), and Emily Zakin (Philosophy).

Medical Humanities Minor

Coordinator: Dr. Klestinec  
Klestic@miamioh.edu
Bachelor Hall 356

Medical Humanities introduces students to the historical, philosophical, literary and ethical issues of medicine in the past and today. As medicine today extends human life and physical capability, it brings with it difficult questions of value (questions of purpose, meaning, judgment, and action) about the alteration of the body, the unequal distribution of care, disability, and the end of life. For this reason, leading physicians and institutions worldwide have called for the urgent return of the humanities to medical education and practice.

This minor offers students an interdisciplinary program of study that focuses on changing concepts and perceptions of disease, health, medical authority and patient experiences. Understanding the humanistic dimensions of medicine and being able to communicate effectively, students will be prepared to respond to a dynamic range of professional and personal issues related to health and illness, life and death. This program stresses critical thinking, reflection and clear and informed communication. This minor is open to all students, including students interested in health careers.

COURSES (6 courses, 18 hours)

CORE (at least 1 and up to 3) plus electives

PHL 205 Science and Culture (Spring 2021)
HST 236 Medicine and Disease in Modern Society (Spring 2021)
WGS 204 Gender, Science and Technology (Q)

ELECTIVES (up to 15 credit hours, from at least two different departments)

HST 336 Medicine and Disease (Spring 2021)
HST 352 Medicine and Society in 20th century Africa
HST/BWS/LAS 385 – Race, Science and Disease in the Americas (Fall 2020)

ENG 225-AdvWriting with a focus on medicine
ENG 263 Literature and Medicine (Fall 2020)

PHL 265 Confronting Death (Fall2020)
PHL 375 Medical Ethics (Fall 2020)
PHL 312 Contemporary Moral Problems (Spring 2021)
ANT 348 Introduction to Medical Anthropology (Fall 2020)
ANT 368 Psychological Anthropology
ANT 378 Doctors, Clinics, and Epidemics
ANT 428 Anthropology of Women’s Health
REL360 Special Topics: Medicine, Morality and Religion*


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