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How We Die – UIC CME

Updated: 6/27/21


Available to M3 and M4 Students

This course uses literature and film, ethical case studies and physicians’ reflections related to death and the dying process as points of reference for examining the role medicine plays in how we view and experience death as individuals and as a culture. Through a humanities-driven exploration of personal, familial, and cultural issues surrounding the dying process, the course offers students practical skills for offering patient-centered care.

The following competencies will be addressed directly or indirectly :

  • Patient Care
    • Consider the cultural and socioeconomic factors in management options
    • Counsel and educate patients and their families
  • Medical Knowledge
    • Understand the cultural factors important to health care
    • Understand relevant legal and ethical concepts
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
    • Assess his/her strengths and weaknesses in order to improve performance and identify effective ways to address limitations and enhance expertise
    • Access information effectively, efficiently, critically appraise the information and relate it to their patient’s health problems
    • Admit his/her limits of knowledge, know what to do when those limits are reached, deal with uncertainty, and respect the opinions of others
    • Recognize the need to learn is continuous
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
    • Listen attentively
    • Communicate clearly with colleagues, consultants, patients and patients’ families both orally and in writing
  • Professionalism
    • Respect the opinion of others
    • Recognize the need to learn is continuous
    • Demonstrate respect for human dignity

Class Meetings: Depending on the topic or theme for the class, the hourly breakdown will vary according to assigned readings and discussions of them. A typical class will contain three hours of discussion and one hour of in-class group activities (3-4 hours prep time)
Small Group Discussion: 2 hours each day
Student Presentation: 20 mins (1-2 hours prep time)
Living Will: 4-5 hours to complete
Reflective Paper: 2-3 hours to complete
Final 7-page paper: 8-10 hours to complete

Students will be evaluated on their written work for the class, their class presentations, and the participation in class discussion by faculty leader in the form of written and verbal feedback. Monday of second week students will receive verbal feedback during a one-on­ one meeting with faculty leader.

Required Reading:

  • Angela Belli, Bodies and Barriers: Dramas of Dis-Ease. Kent State UP, 2008
  • Ira Byock, Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life.  Riverhead Books, 1997

Recommended Reading:

  • Thomas Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. Princeton UP, 2015
  • Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Picador, 2017

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 421

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director: Michael Blackie, PhD
    Telephone: 213-324-4796 (Cell)

  • Program Information

    Location: UIC Department of Medical Education

    Duration: 2 weeks
    Night call: No
    Weekends: No
    Students accepted:  Minimum: 3 – Maximum: 12
    House staff used as faculty: No
    Inpatient/faculty contact: NA
    Laboratory/independent study: No lab
    Outpatient: No
    Total hour week: 40