Penn State University  | College of Medicine |  Research Departments |  George T. Harrell Library |  Medical Center |  Clinical & Translational Science Institute

Medical Humanities – First-Year Course

Medical Humanities explores questions of value and meaning in and around medical thinking and practice.  Every medical specialty includes a doctor and a patient, and the doctor-patient relationship is the domain—and essence—of the medical humanities.

In this course, we focus on two people: the patient and the professional caregiver. Each brings his or her unique perspective, history, belief system, strength and weakness to the doctor-patient relationship. Every time a physician walks in a patient’s room, something happens that affects the emotional and physical well-being of the patient and the physician.

Our Philosophy

Our overall approach to this class flows from our beliefs that:

  •  The medical humanities can be learned and applied to the practice of every field in medicine.
  • Learning is most effective when it is self-motivated.
  • An expert is someone with a genuine interest in a subject.
  • Learning requires humility and collaboration.
  • Learning is a lot of fun.

Our Goals

This course is intended to empower students to:

  • Take ownership of the course so that class time is spent in ways students find most meaningful and engaging.
  • Practice self-reflection and self-directed learning; this is how one will learn throughout her/his career.
  • Collaborate—rather than compete—by supporting colleagues in their questioning.
  • Seek out items, thoughts, and experiences from everyday life that are the stuff of medical humanities, and share what one finds with others.
  • Apply the questions explored and lessons learned in this course to one’s personal and professional life.
  • Experience creativity in medicine.

Permanent link to this article: http://www2.med.psu.edu/humanities/for-medical-students/medical-humanities-first-year-course/