Courses in Public Health Clusters

It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has." - Hippocrates

skeletonThe University of Rochester School of Medicine has a Division of Medical Humanities & Bioethics. It was founded in 1982. We teach interdisciplinary courses and electives to medical students, nursing students and faculty at URMC and at the affiliated hospitals. Our Instructors are clinicians, nurses, social workers, and professors in humanities. Our courses focus on issues in healthcare. In our teaching, we apply the methods and materials from humanities and arts disciplines to understand the human contexts of health and illness.

In the Fall semester , the Division of Medical Humanities will offer two courses.

  • MHB 210/410 Bioethics at the Bedside: How Clinicians Think Ethically
  • MHB 220/420 Stories in Healthcare: Clinicians, Patients, and Narrative Medicine

These courses are open to undergraduate and graduate students and can be used to meet Cluster requirements in Humanities. They are offered as 200 level and 400 level courses for River Campus students through the Division and will be taught at the School of Medicine. These courses are designed and taught by interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams of clinicians, humanities-trained scholars and others.

MHB 210 / 410 Bioethics at the Bedside: How Clincians Think Ethically

Fall Semester, 4 credit hours; Wed/Fri, 10:25 - 11:40 am
Enrollment limited to graduate students, and upper level undergraduate students.
Maximum: 30 students.

This course can be used to meet requirements in one of two Humanities clusters: Ethics and Values (H1PHL001) and Bioethics (H1PH001).

Course Description

Most ethical dilemmas in medicine arise at the bedside. Wrestling with these challenging conflicts is a core task of the clinical application of bioethics in medicine and nursing. Using real cases, guided by an interdisciplinary team of practicing clinicians with educators in bioethics and law, this course will examine three fundamental subjects of bioethics that arise in medical practice: informed consent, organ transplantation and death and dying.

MHB 220 / 420 Stories in Healthcare: Clincians, Patients and Narrative Medicine

Fall semester, 4 credit hours; Tues/Thurs, 9:40 - 10:55 am
Enrollment limited to graduate students, and upper level undergraduate students.
Maximum: 30 students.

This course can be used to meet requirements in a Humanities cluster: Medicine in Context (S1PH004).

Course Description

The practice of medicine depends on stories. Patients tell their stories to doctors; doctors listen to and interpret these stories. Clinicians then use information gathered from patients’ narratives to guide diagnosis and treatment. In this course, we will identify and develop narrative skills and techniques that doctors and other clinicians use in practice, through the close study of narratives (poems, fiction, essays, films, etc.) and discussion of key texts in narrative medicine. Topics will include: Playing God, Death, Cancer, Professionalism Doctor/Patient Relationship, and others. Sessions will be team taught by a clinician- writer and a clinician-educator in literature.

These courses are offered to upper level undergraduate students and graduate students at the College, and others at the Simon School, Warner School, Eastman School of Music, and School of Nursing.

For more information about the courses, please contact Stephanie Brown Clark, MD, PhD, Director, Division of Medical Humanities and Bioethics via email at

Medical Humanities and Bioethics Noon Conferences

End of Life Decisions: When the nurse feels caught in the middle

Presented by Karen J. Abbas, MS, RN, AOCN and Dwight Hettler, MSN, RN

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015,
12-1 pm

Room K-207 (2-6408)


Visual Journaling and Project 365

Presented by Deborah Pierce, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, SMD

Friday, Feb. 13, 2015,
12-1 pm

Room K-207 (2-6408)