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Education / Graduate Education / Masters Degrees / Medical Humanities

Medical Humanities

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, MD, Boston City Hospital, 1927

Gerrit - The Dropsical

Image credit: Gerrit Dou, The Dropsical Woman (detail),
c. 1663, Oil on panel, Musée du Louvre, Paris

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 Medical Humanities 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 students

Recent article in Rochester Medicine, The Human Being in Room 4 (2014 V3)

Contact Us

Division of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Rochester
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 676
Rochester, NY 14642
(585) 275-5800