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Education / Graduate Education / Master's Degrees / Master's in Health Humanities and Bioethics

Health Humanities and Bioethics

Gerrit - The Dropsical

One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.


- Francis W. Peabody, M.D., Boston City Hospital, 1927


Medicine is a science and an art. Caring for a patient is a professional and scientific practice; it is also a personal and profoundly human relationship for both the patient and the practitioner.

The practitioner must be able to understand the science of diseases and treatments, and attend to each patient's personal experience of illness as it is informed by unique values, beliefs and feelings within broader socio-cultural contexts. Further, the practitioner must also be able to consider his/her own personal values, beliefs, feelings regarding the patient and the broader context of the health professions.

The field of Health Humanities and Bioethics uses the perspectives and tools of humanities and arts disciplines to study the human contexts of healthcare. In the biopsychosocial tradition of healthcare education at Rochester, the program provides foundational training in this field. Students study humanities to consider interpersonal perspectives and sociocultural contexts of patients and caregivers, and to develop skills that can be applied directly to the practice and teaching of healthcare.

The program is administered through the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. This is a full-time one year Master's in Science degree program (end of August – end of May) and is intended for students, trainees, professionals and scholars in:

  • Healthcare Disciplines - medicine, nursing, dentistry, social work, and pastoral care, in allied health sciences occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistants to develop humanities-based knowledge and skills that can be applied to their clinical practice.
  • Humanities and Social Science Disciplines - literature, history, visual arts, anthropology, performing arts, gender, cultural and religious studies who want to integrate aspects of medicine and patient care into their academic work and teaching.
  • Gap Year or Bridging Year Students
  • Download our fact sheet

Learn More About the Program

What Our Students Have To Say

Additional Videos

Introduction to Medical Humanities

Introduction to Medical Humanities & Bioethics at Rochester

by Stephanie Brown Clark, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Division of Medical Humanities & Bioethics
and Margie H. Shaw, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Medical Humanities & Bioethics

What is Medical Humanities?

What is Medical Humanities and Why is it important?

by Stephanie Brown Clark, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Division of Medical Humanities & Bioethics

How to Enhance Observation

Interactive Website Designed to Enhance Observation

Designed to enhance skills of observation in ways that can be translated to the clinical setting

What Our Students Say...

As a premed student, there is so much emphasis on hard science and memorizing facts, and sometimes we forget to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, and think about why it is we are studying all of this information.

The master's in medical humanities program has allowed me to do just that. I have learned how to read about, witness, and process relevant issues in our medical system, whether they be ethical, social, or cultural issues.

Taking a year to immerse myself in the humanities has allowed me to learn how to think differently and learn from others' perspectives. Furthermore, studying humanities has allowed me to practice working with literature and texts that are not scientifically based, which has helped improve my non-science MCAT scores in the critical reading and psychology/sociology sections by 30%."

- Jen Battaglia

Premed Student

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