Program Structure

First Two Years

Students take two courses in the Introduction to Medical Humanities course. One course is taught each Fall and focuses on History and Literature, and the second course is taught each Spring and focuses on Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics. Students may take these courses in either their MSI or MSII years and in any order.

Students also complete at least one McGovern Center-sponsored extracurricular elective (also known as blue books) by the end of their second year. These electives include Art of Observation, Growing Empathy Through Improvisation, The Healer’s Art, and more. Some of these sponsored electives are developed and coordinated by medical students. The list of available electives is updated routinely.

Summer Prior to Second Year

Following their first year of medical training, students participate in the Summer Humanities Seminar. The course exposes students to relevant topics in the medical humanities and ethics through shared reading and discussion. The seminar is conducted through in-person or virtual meetings held over one to two months with a McGovern Center member to facilitate discussion.

Third Year

Students attend at least one writing workshop and maintain regular journal entries documenting their experiences during clinical rotations. Journaling helps students to develop skills in critical thinking, reflection, and self-knowledge. During this time, students also benefit from a faculty mentor who reads and responds to their writings.

During the MSIII year, students may optionally enroll in the elective SCHO 3030: Student Research (formerly Scholarly Concentrations) to start early on their final projects. The course is Pass/Fail and, during the elective, students work with a faculty mentor with the McGovern Center to develop their topic and build a bibliography they will use for their project. Check-in dates and deadlines are to be negotiated between the student and mentor; however, there are three deadlines to serve as general guides for when the bibliography should be submitted:

  • Summer: July 15,
  • Fall: December 15, and
  • Spring: May 15.

Medical humanities students interested in enrolling in this elective must contact the program director and coordinator in advance.

Fourth Year

Students complete the required fourth-year elective, Humanistic Elements of Medicine, a month-long intensive seminar in medical humanities. At the conclusion of the elective, students complete their final project and present a summary of it at the program’s Annual Graduation Banquet, held during the Spring of students’ MSIV year.

Additional Requirements

During all program years, specifically MSII, MSIII, and MSIV years, students must attend program events and dinners. A total of 4 are required, of which 2 must be program-sponsored dinners—one dinner is offered each Fall and Spring. The remaining 2 events may be of the student’s choosing, including in-person or virtual events whether sponsored by the program, McGovern Center, university, or outside organizations.

Finally, there is a service requirement for the program, in which students participate in at least 4 hours of volunteer or leadership service. Volunteer activities may be completed through McGovern Medical School, and leadership activities include organizing and developing blue book (or extracurricular) electives, workshops, and other special events.