Hiram College

The art and science of medicine synthesize in the health humanities.

Hence, it’s no surprise that class sessions with titles such as Art Rounds: Teaching Observation and Communication Through Museum Art; Poetry and Identity: How to Lead a Poetry Workshop for Those in Remission; and A Dog’s Life; or, Why I Want to Be Treated by James Herriot, Veterinarian will draw health humanities professors from across the nation to Hiram College this week.

Since Hiram established the first-ever biomedical humanities major in 1998, more than 50 colleges and universities have followed suit. Five more programs are currently in development.  Students in health humanities programs, which focus on health or medicine and require humanities courses, show strong preparation for medical school, and health care delivery and leadership.  See the Health Humanities Baccalaureate Programs in the United States  report by Hiram College and the Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

cover2“The health humanities, which have traditionally been a necessarily marginalized part of health professions curriculum, are now blossoming at the undergraduate level where there is more time to devote to the curriculum and a wider audience to be reached,” says Erin Gentry Lamb, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of biomedical humanities and director of Hiram’s Center for Literature and Medicine, sponsor of the June 8-11 seminar.

“Students exposed to baccalaureate health humanities coursework are more likely to be drawn to primary care fields, which we are in such great need of right now,” Lamb says, pointing to research findings and Hiram’s own alumni record.

Filled with interactive sample classes, lightning talks, poster sessions and small-group discussions, the program is intended to leave participants with innovative skills and new materials to adapt to their teaching.

“At the baccalaureate level, the health humanities can have a much broader reach. I have students in my classes who will never be health care providers, but they will all be patients, family members and voters, if not policy makers. The subjects we teach about—aging, death, health and illness, social inequality, ethical decision-making – are relevant to everyone’s lives,” Lamb says.