Paths of Excellence: Medical Humanities
Students talking in Taubman library by window

Enrich Your Life as a Physician

Learn how the lessons of history inform medicine today, and discover how the humanities can enhance your relationships with your patients.

Deeper Understanding

Consider this path if:

  • The arts and humanities have been important aspects of your life, and you want to integrate them into what you are learning in medical school
  • The arts and humanities have not been important in your life, but you wish they were 
  • You are eager to learn how the lessons of history or studies of culture and society inform medicine today 
  • You want to explore the relationship between medicine, communication and media
  • You wonder how the medical humanities can enrich your life as a physician and enhance relationships with your patients

The Medical Humanities Path of Excellence actively engages students in the connections between medicine and the humanities through exploration, scholarship, interpretation, creative pursuits and critical reflection to enrich understanding of the human experience as it relates to health and illness, and to enhance clinical, educational and research strategies.

Medical humanities is a broad field, encompassing the interface between the science of health professions and other disciplines, including narrative medicine, history, literature, creative writing, anthropology, performing arts and visual arts. Students with extensive backgrounds in the arts or humanities, as well as students without previous experience, will participate in a community that supports self-actualization leading to improved patient care. 

Through this Path, students learn to:

  • Describe the diversity of the various disciplines of the medical humanities
  • Elaborate on the relationship of two of these areas to the practice of medicine
  • Recognize the power of the arts and humanities to connect with patients individually and within a community of practice
  • Identify and explore stereotypes related to physicians, patients, illness, aging and other aspects of the physician-patient relationship


Medical students must join this Path in winter of M1 year. After joining this Path, the student journey will begin with a foundational overview of five disciplines (history of medicine, art museum-based visual arts, music, narrative medicine and creative writing) through seminars and group activities. Interests will be honed in small workgroups leading to a self-directed capstone project facilitated by an advisor and a second mentor with expertise in another discipline. Although much of the Capstone for Impact work will be pursued independently, students will meet intermittently as a group to give updates on progress and share their projects. 

Learn more about M4 Sam's Path experience.