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Health Humanities – Online

Updated: 3/8/21

Completion of Phase 1


This elective focuses on the application of creative arts and humanities disciplines to discourse about human health and wellbeing. These “health humanities” may take many forms, from the history of medicine to to medical ethics, from literature and creative writing to music, film, and the visual arts. A portion of the instruction will be dedicated to analysis and discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic through a health humanities lens. The student will survey these forms with the course director and identify a form in which to realize a personal creative project. Current and potential future academic research in health humanities will be discussed as well.

At the end of this rotation, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the benefits and tenets of health humanities from various perspectives and applications.
  2. Analyze and appraise different modalities of health humanities including writing, music, film, and the visual arts.
  3. Create an artistic or analytic project that explores an experience with health or illness, especially in response.

Year 4 standardized evaluation form completed by attending faculty based on participation in clinic, (and/or other methods of evaluation)


  • Alive Inside. Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett, 2014.
  • Chou CM, Kellum K, and Shea JA. Attitudes and Habits of Highly Humanistic Physicians. Acad Med. 2014 Sep;89(9):1252-8. Fancourt D and Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review.
  • Geneva, SZ: WHO Press, 2019. [also: WHO paper launched in Helsinki November 11, 2019: The role of the arts in improving health and well-being in the WHO European region. . Accessed 22 March 2020].
  • Hatsi, Vasia. MEDinART. TEDMED Live Athens, 2013. . Accessed 31 Dec 2018.
  • Influenza Encyclopedia: The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919. University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine. Accessed 24 March 2020.
  • Jamison L. “Devil’s Bait” from The Empathy Exams: Essays. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2014. Available at:
  • Mangione S et al. Medical Students’ Exposure to the Humanities Correlates with Positive Personal Qualities and Reduced Burnout: A Multi-Institutional U.S. Survey J Gen Intern Med 3:3(5):628-34
  • National Organization for Arts in Health. (2017). Arts, Health, and Well-Being in America. San Diego, CA. Available at:
  • [TheGWMFA]. (2016, March 24). Cuentos The Movie [Video File]. Retrieved from
  • Verghese A. “The Importance of Being.” Health Affairs 35, no.10 (2016):1924-1927. Available at:

Additional resources (optional)

  • Charon R. Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Dolan B, ed. Humanitas: Readings in the Development of the Medical Humanities. San Francisco, CA: University of California, 2015.
  • Mullan F, Ficklen E, and Rubin K, eds. Narrative Matters: The Power of Personal Essay in Health Policy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 502

  • Program Contacts

    Program Directors: Elsa Vazquez – Melendez, MD
    Gina Vozenilek, MFA, MA


  • Program Information

    Location: Online

    Duration: 2 weeks
    Night Call: No
    Weekends: No
    Students Accepted: Min. 3, Max. 12
    Housestaff Used as Faculty: No
    Lectures/Conferences/Faculty Contact: Yes
    Laboratory/Independent Study: No
    Total Hours /Week: 20-30 per week