Concentration in Medical Humanities and Ethics

Concentration in Medical Humanities and Ethics

Concentration Co-Directors

Michael P. Steinberg, PhD
Director, Cogut Center for the Humanities
Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History
Brown University
194 Meeting Street
Box 1983
Providence, Rhode Island 02912
Phone: (401) 863-6074
Email: Michael_Steinberg@brown.edu

Jay Baruch, MD
University Emergency Medicine Foundation
Director, Ethics Curriculum
Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University
593 Eddy Street, Claverick Building, 2nd Fl.
Providence, RI 02903
Ph: 401-444-5120
Email: jay_baruch@brown.edu

Christine Montross, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
345 Blackstone Boulevard
Providence, RI 02906
Email: Christine_Montross@brown.edu
http://www.christinemontross.com/

Michael Felder, DO (Bioethics)
Assistant Director, Medical Ethics
Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine
Email: Michael_Felder@Brown.EDU 

Overview

The Scholarly Concentration in Medical Humanities and Ethics is about taking on big questions.

As defined by Felice Aull, the term "medical humanities" refers to the interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. Dr. Aull goes on to note that these disciplines, by providing insight into the human condition, promote the qualities and skills that are essential for humane medical care – empathy, observation and self-reflection. They also provide for a cultural and social context for the practice of medicine.

Biomedical ethics is, similarly, a multidisciplinary pursuit. Ethical dilemmas, sometimes defined as “genuine conflicts of moral belief, perspective, or position,” emerge in a range of fields from medicine to the humanities, technology, industry, policy and human rights.

Medicine is perhaps the most humane art and science. Its tasks of caring and healing focus first on the body but its goals of individual and collective well-being affect all aspects of physical, mental, and social life. The Medical Humanities and Ethics Scholarly Concentration encourages students to draw from broad, interdisciplinary approaches and resources to examine the field of medicine and the countless dilemmas which arise within it.

Some students may design a project that falls squarely within the auspices of either Medical Humanities or Ethics, or they may choose to create a project in the shared interspace of the two.

Expectations

  • Students enrolling in the medical ethics and medical humanities scholarly concentration enjoy the opportunity to pursue multiple avenues of scholarly and creative projects. 
  • Students who desire to focus more narrowly on either medical ethics or medical humanities should anticipate scheduled opportunities to discuss their projects in a group forum and to have conversations and interdisciplinary dialogues with their colleagues. We hope such an exchange will also serve as an incubator for new ideas and collaborations. 
  • Students will participate in periodic discussions regarding topics that will inform their own work as well as nourish their understanding of their fields. 
  • Students are required to complete a scholarly project, which can be satisfied by a ‘portfolio’--examples of portfolio work include academic papers, didactic presentations, curriculum development, community projects, creative work or research. Students are expected to submit reports of their work every six months to their faculty mentor. 
  • Students will benefit from the community of fellow ethics and humanities concentrators and directors, but their primary working relationship will be with their faculty mentors. The concentration directors will assist students in establishing this critically important relationship which will then be cultivated and sustained by the student and mentor.

Timeline of Activities

Year 1

Meet with scholarly concentration directors to discuss your interests and goals, develop a well-defined summer project, and identify a project faculty mentor. Draft your funding application for a summer research assistantship. You should begin to think about the shape of your scholarly portfolio over the next three years.

Year 2

Group conversations and discussions as noted above. Students will be expected to present their summer work as part of the seminar experience. Seminar for medical ethics will have a parallel track, led by medical ethics faculty, but we anticipate certain topics to be of general interest and explored as a group.

Years 3 & 4

We hope students will attend discussions and events should their schedule permit in MS3 and MS4.

Year 3, we expect students to submit three 2500 word pieces of scholarly activity that emanates from clerkship experiences--these can include formal essays or thought pieces, reflective essays, creative work, or scholarly analysis. By February of Year 3, you should meet with your project mentor or scholarly concentration directors to review the status of your portfolio in preparation for year 4.

Year 4, Take a teaching/leadership role in discussions and didactic activities. Give formal presentation on one part of your portfolio, which must include a publishable article, a formal presentation, performance, or a publicly available body of original work. We encourage students to help shape medical ethics and humanities curricula for the medical school.

The portfolio will be reviewed by the medical ethics and medical humanities core faculty, as well as by the student's faculty mentor.

You are invited to take advantage of all aspects of the Cogut Center’s developing programs and resources, including visiting lecture series, conferences, and the exhibition, installation and interactive possibilities of the Humanities Lab. There will also be medical ethics lectures, visiting ethics speakers, and opportunities to participate in medical ethics education.

Curriculum

Each student in the Medical Humanities and Ethics Scholarly Concentration will participate in a core seminar course, the schedule of which will be designed around the existing medical curriculum. This course, tentatively entitled ‘Special Topics in the Medical Humanities,’ will be a weekly series of hour-long lectures on a range of topics in bioethics and the medical humanities. These lectures will be delivered by various faculty members from different university departments, each one presenting a lecture or series of lectures on topics in which they specialize.

As a new program of Brown University, charged with encouraging collaboration and growth in the humanities, the Cogut Center for the Humanities is pleased to act as co-sponsor of the Medical Humanities concentration. The resources, programs, and networks of the Cogut Center will be made available to the concentration with the goal of encouraging widespread participation on the part of Brown faculty and students. You are invited to take advantage of all aspects of the Cogut Center’s developing programs and resources, including visiting lecture series, conferences, and the exhibition, installation and interactive possibilities of the Humanities Lab.

There will also be medical ethics lectures, visiting ethics speakers, and opportunities to participate in medical ethics education.

Concentration Related Electives

Pre-clinical:
BIOL 3710 M: No Innocent Eye: Knowledge and Interpretation in Art and Medicine

Learning Objectives
Medical ethics concentrators will develop moral reasoning skills to identify and clarify the ethical dilemmas that occur in both medical education and clinical practice, engage in scholarship, and belong to a community of support and mentorship. 
A concentrator in medical ethics will be prepared to serve as a resource for colleagues faced with ethical dilemmas. They will also develop skills in ethics teaching, be involved in development and refinement of the ethics curriculum, and gain experience on hospital ethics committees.

Project Examples

Some students may design a project that falls squarely within the auspices of either Medical Humanities or Ethics, or they may choose to create a project in the shared interspace of the two.

Medical Humanities projects will be engaged principally in the study of human experience, human understanding and self-understanding. Over time, humanistic disciplines have developed in conjunction with the components of human understanding and representation. These aspects--language, image, movement, sound, as well as the political and social modes of their distribution-at once involve and transcend the body. Both scholarly and creative projects will be welcomed.

Projects in Clinical Ethics will ask students to choose as a project an ethical dilemma—preferably one that gnaws at them and keeps them up at night. The project will help students identify the source of their discomfort with the issue, and will provide students with the ability to examine the deeply held moral values of all participants in the conflict; to learn to sensitively tease out the latent principles contained in the dilemma, and to provide justifications that support their opinions.
The ultimate requirement of ethical analysis is action. In the medical context, as opposed to theoretical and philosophical construct, problems demand practical solutions.

Accepted Students and Scholarly Concentration Projects

Student Project Title Mentor
Liou, Kevin Humanities as Medical Instruments: A Teaching Fellows Program Drs. Jay Baruch, Christine Montross, and Arnold Weinstein
Peng, Bo Breaking the Silence: A Documentary about my first semester of medical school Dr. Jay Baruch
Grossman, Joseph The Role of Broca’s Area in the Resolution of Competition: An fMRI Investigation Sheila Blumstein, PhD
Amos, Emily Physician in a Changing World Dr. Jay Baruch
Bravo, Michelle Brown Longitudinal Advanced Spanish Training for Medical Doctors (BLAST MD) Dr. Jay Baruch
Brooks, Katie Doctor Patient Communication with the Medically Underserved-The Ethics of Competent Care Michael Barton-Laws
Butler, John Developing and Articulating a Thomistic Medical Ethics Dr. Michael Felder

Rodriquez,
Nicolette

 

The length and severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms for female inmates: Developing a narrative centered smoking cessation intervention

Dr. Jennifer Clarke

Maximum Number of Students

There is currently no maximum number of students that can participate in the concentration.

Faculty Mentors

Jay Baruch, MD - Areas of interest:

  • Medical humanities program development
  • Medical humanities and arts as form of community engagement on medical issues.
  • Medical ethics
  • Fiction and creative work as means to better explore and understand individuals and the work of medicine
  • Creativity and writing as clinical tools.

Christine Montross, MD – Areas of interest:

  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Balancing/integrating medicine with other creative, intellectual and personal pursuits
  • Medical Humanities program development

Funding Opportunities 

There are currently no identified funding sources beyond the traditional Summer Assistantships.