Medical Humanities

Since 2007, the McGovern Center has offered students the opportunity to enrich their medical education through participation in:

  • elective courses,
  • lecture series,
  • volunteer and leadership opportunities,
  • writing workshops, and
  • directed research programs.

Our unique concentration in medical humanities encompasses all four years of medical school and confers a special designation and dean recognition upon graduation.

Our program is also a recognized member of the Scholarly Concentrations Program.

The McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics offers a Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration that provides medical students with the opportunity to enrich their medical education through study and involvement in the humanities. Opportunities include participation in courses, seminars, community outreach opportunities, writing workshops, and research projects.

Medicine is both an art and a science. By exploring medicine through the lenses of history, ethics, law, literature, philosophy, religion, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, cultural criticism, and the arts (such as photography, drawing, painting, and music), students gain insights into the human condition—especially experiences of suffering. Students inquire about the responsibilities of individuals and communities to one another in sickness and in health. Students also learn to cultivate the most important instrument of healing: Their individual selves. Thus, drawing on the tradition of the humanities, students learn to direct their self-development.

How Our Program is Different

Many medical schools have electives and special service-learning activities designed to enhance students’ medical training. Few, if any, have a certificate program that encompasses all four years of medical training with structured programs and learning opportunities that allow students to reflect, share, and work together to enhance their individual and collective capacities to see and care for the patient, not simply the disease.

Students completing this program receive a special designation on their permanent transcript, in their Dean’s letter, and at graduation as a John P. McGovern, M.D., Humanities Scholar. They will also have the opportunity to present research papers at various venues in the Texas Medical Center and national meetings.

Program Goals

  • To enhance the traditional medical curriculum, given medicine is both an art and a science;
  • To explore medicine through the lenses of history, ethics, law, literature, religion and spirituality, social science, cultural studies, and the arts by providing students with insight into the human condition and a patient-centered approach to medical care;
  • To enhance students’ abilities to cultivate that most important instrument of healing—their individual selves;
  • To assist students in becoming culturally competent, ethical, and compassionate caregivers.

Guiding Principles

Modern medicine is in search of a soul. The crucial question is this:

Can the institution of medicine continue to take advantage of the benefits of science and technology, without losing its own human essence?

We believe that medicine exists in the truest sense when science, technology, and the craftsmanship of the physician are applied with the deepest respect for the humanity of the patient.