The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities & Bioethics


The Medical Humanities program features a curriculum integrating science and humanities courses throughout the six years of study. An appreciation of art, history, literature, music, and philosophy encourages students to become more attuned to their experiences and their future profession through self-reflection, listening and writing in addition to helping the budding physician become more empathetic and compassionate in dealing with patients.

The curriculum includes a variety of semester-long humanities courses. An undergraduate curriculum in medical humanities has been developed to broaden the course offerings for students. Month-long courses pertinent to medical practice are also coordinated through the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics. Students pursuing a bachelor of arts, or a bachelor of science degree, may also wish to consider adding the Healing and Humanities minor.

Courses may be taken as electives or to fulfill the curriculum requirement of taking one humanities or one social science course during years 5 or 6. Course offerings are constantly reviewed based on the response and the interest of students.



Medicine, War and the Arts (9514)

This course considers the continually evolving relationship between medicine, war, and the arts, from the slaughter of the American Civil War (1861-65) to today’s conflicts in the Middle East. Our focus is on the extraordinary difficult medical and ethical decisions faced by physicians in times of war, and the ways in which those experiences are reflected in the arts. Topics include the effects of disease on armies, biological warfare, the development of ambulance and hospital services in the Civil War, battlefield medicine, the diagnosis and treatment of shellshock victims in WWI, chemical warfare, the pioneering of plastic surgery, triage techniques in WWII, nuclear warfare, PTSD and the personal experiences of physicians in the Vietnam and Iraq wars.


Medicine and Music (9515)

*** Offered in Graz, Austria every other year in July

This course explores ways in which music and medicine interact, including the following topics: therapeutic applications of music (music therapy), aspects of current research on how the brain processes music, the treatment of medical themes (including illness and disease, patients, physicians, and human experimentation) in musical works, and how certain composers’ medical conditions affected their creative output.


Medicine and Film (9516)

This course investigates the ways in which physicians, patients, and medical students have been portrayed in Hollywood films over the course of the twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries. We discuss how films reflected, changed, and molded perceptions of physicians and patients in the past, and examine what contemporary portrayals of the medical profession can tell us about the expectations and fears of patients today.


Medicine and Literature (9517)

The aim of this course is to engage students in the process of self-reflection about their roles as health care professionals through the lens of literature.  Reading about the ways in which people interact with professionals, patients, and disease can enrich our understanding of cultural, economic, and social issues.  Medical literature is a diverse field and it increases our awareness of the different reactions to medicine and illness.


Medicine, Law and Bioethics (9518)

This course provides the basic doctrines and principles of the law to serve as a foundation for legally and ethically sound medical practice. It includes a comprehensive coverage of the history of legal medicine in the United States, the dynamics of the law applied to medical issues, the recent developments in health care delivery and biomedical issues. The legal and ethical issues of narrative medicine in physician practice and its practical applications are explored and discussed.


Medicine and Body Image (9594)

This course considers the complex relationship of medicine to body image in the past and the present. Our themes are notions of normality, disfigurement, and perfection, in medicine and the arts. We focus on medical humanities as a place where the creation and reinforcement, or the rejection and destruction, of certain body images in culture is particularly revealing.


Medicine and the Arts (9574)

*** Offered in Uppsala, Sweden every other year in July

The aim of this course is to expose students to a wide variety of connections between medicine and the arts.  Examining healthcare provider and patient narratives, artistic representations, musical compositions, and theatrical performances gives students the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue and personal reflection about the diverse role of medical humanities in the healing process of illness and injury.


Palliative Medicine Clerkship

The Palliative Medicine Clerkship course is open to students upon the approval of Dr.Richard Butin.

The course combines palliative clinical medicine, medical humanities and bioethics through the collaboration of Dr. Richard Butin and faculty of the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics.

Additional information may be obtained from Dr. Richard Butin, Dr. Lynda Payne or Ms. Marilyn Pesto.