Fourth-Year Electives

Humanistic Elements of Medicine

For the 2020-21 academic year, the course will be held during Block 6 (9/21-10/16), Block 8 (11/16-12/11), and Block 11 (2/8-3/5).
Initially designed for students enrolled in the Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration, the course is open to all fourth-year medical students interested in an elective that addresses a variety of topics related to the medical humanities.

Some of the topics presented include, but are not limited to:

  • ethical, philosophical, social, and legal dimensions of health care;
  • perspectives on the doctor-patient relationship; and
  • the spiritual dimensions of health care.

The course is taught in a seminar-style by faculty of the McGovern Center. As part of the course, students are required to prepare a final research project.

Pathographies of Mental Illness

This course is scheduled during Block 10 (1/11-2/5) for the 2020-21 academic year.
Developed from a blue book elective of the same name, this elective is offered to fourth-year medical students each January and focuses on the meaning of mental illness. Students have the opportunity to study written pathographies of mental illness, such as Sylvia Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind, Lionel Dahmer’s A Father’s Story, and William Styron’s Darkness Visible.

The course is reading intensive, but also features film pathographies based on the required texts with background material provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-5.

Students taking the course will be able to:

  • Articulate the significance of a “memoir approach” to understanding mental illness;
  • Apply theoretical insights from medical humanities to a memoir of mental illness;
  • Identify moral and ethical issues in a particular memoir of mental illness;
  • Describe how writing about mental illness helps sufferers to make meaning of mental illness; and
  • Reflect on how you think that reading pathographies of mental illness will affect your clinical skills.

Students may contact Angela Polczynski, MBA, to obtain permission codes to enroll in or learn more about the electives.  The course director of Humanistic Elements of Medicine is Keisha Ray, PhD, and Nathan Carlin, PhD directs Pathographies of Mental Illness.