Clinical Humanities and the Healing Arts

Clinical Humanities and the Healing Arts

Clinical humanities is a reflective and disciplined inquiry that involves the representation, interpretation, and analysis of the range of human experience in illness and well-being. The humanities in this context is broadly construed to refer to history, literature, philosophy, ethics, religious studies, sociology, anthropology, and the visual and performing arts. The humanities remind us that illness, recovery, living, and dying are part of the human experience and that everyone in the system of healthcare, including patients and providers, are human beings. From an educational perspective, using the clinical humanities is a means to reach professional and clinical competencies. Some examples of the ways the humanities are used include: engaging with existing narratives and poems, or representations of illness and healing, to learn about the experience of others; approaching literature and art for one’s own inspiration towards developing a personal sense of meaning and community; and creating one’s own literature and art towards the same end goals as appreciating the work of others.



Marin Gillis, Ph.L., Ph.D., Professor and Director of Medical Ethics, Humanities, and the Arts, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami, FL.


Please print the following handout and bring to lecture:

The Story of Isaac


Reading(s) and/or Website(s):

Christenson, Gary. “Why We Need the Arts in Medicine: Studies show that incorporating the arts can save money, improve the patient experience-and do a lot more.” Commentary, MinnesotaMedicine, July 2011. Web. 1 June 2015.

Charon, Rita. “Narrative Medicine: Attention, Representation, Affiliation.” Narrative 13.3 (2005): 261-270. Project Muse. Web. 1 Jun. 2015.

Lecture Slides: GBI_Summer_Humanities_Seminar_June30_2015

Seminar Slides: GBI_Summer_Humanities_Lecture_Jun30_2015

Students will be divided into 4 groups. Each group will be assigned readings from each of the following subjects and be responsible for answering the appropriate questions:

1. Arts and Humanities in Medical/Healthcare Education:

Naghshineh, S., Hafler, J. P., Miller, A. R., Blanco, M. A., Lipsitz, S. R., Dubroff, R. P., Khoshbin, S., Katz, J. T. “Formal Art Observation Training Improves Medical Students’ Visual Diagnostic Skills.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 23.7 (2008): 991–997. PMC. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What was the educational intervention?
  • Was the intervention successful?

About Graphic Medicine | Graphic Medicine.” Graphic Medicine. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What is Graphic Medicine?

Mjoseth, Jeannine. “NIA Expands Arts Program Aimed at Debunking Negative Aging Stereotypes.” NIH News. Web. 1 June 2015

  • What is the Vital Visionaries Program (VVP)?
  • Was the VVP successful?

Grogan, K., and Zerbo, E. “Literature and Addiction: Can Stories Combat Stigma? – The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.” The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What is the goal of the literature and addiction program?

2. Physician Performers, Artists, and Writers:

About the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.” Longwood Symphony Orchestra. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What is the Longwood Symphony Orchestra?
  • Are there other such orchestras in the US or other countries

Shufro, Cathy. “Doctors who write.” Yale Medicine. Yale School of Medicine. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • Who are some famous physician writers?
  • What are some reasons why physicians write?

Novak, Jessica. “Musician Physicians: The Connection Between Music and Medicine.” Making Music. Making Music Magazine, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 June 2015

  • What are some reasons physicians create music?

Ofri, Danielle. “What Doctors Can Learn From Musicians.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 3 Feb. 2012. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What can musicians teach physicians?

Aronson, Louise. “Where can doctors publish literary writing?” KevinMD. MedPage Today, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What kind of works do these journals publish?

3. Arts and Humanities as Healing Modalities/in Healing Environments

Sonke J., Pesata, V., Arce, L., Carytsas, F. P., Zemina, K., Jokisch, C. The effects of arts-in-medicine programming on the medical-surgical work environment. Arts Health. 2015 Jan 2; 7(1): 27–41.

  • What are some effects of the arts-in-medicine program?

 “About The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project.” Meet Me | The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia. MoMA. Web. 1 June 2015.

About | History.” TimeSlips. TimeSlips. Web. 1 June 2015.

About Moments of Memory.” Moments of Memory. WordPress. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • Why are arts and Alzheimer’s programs good for people living with dementia, their caregivers, and families?
  • Dr. Anne Basting, developer of TimeSlips, offers that we should stop worrying about memory and focus on another faculty. What is the faculty and what do you think her point might be in giving us this directive?

Music Therapy Drumming | A Percussion Curriculum for Music Therapists.” Music Therapy Drumming. WordPress. Web. 1 June 2015.

American Dance Therapy Association | Home.” ADTA. ChrisHill Media. Web. 1 June 2015.

Hirst, Arlene. “Architecture to Promote Healing and Comfort.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 1 June 2015.

Healing HealthCare Systems | Home.” Healing HealthCare Systems. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • Describe some of the interventions mentioned at the above sites.

4. Moral Distress, Empathy Erosion, Compassion Fatigue:

Epstein, E., and Delgado, S. “Understanding and Addressing Moral Distress.” The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing3 (2010). OJIN. The American Nurses Association. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What is moral distress?
  • What are some effects of moral distress?
  • What is the crescendo effect?

Neumann, M., Edelhäuser, F., Tauschel, D., Fischer, M. R., Wirtz, M., Woopen, C., Haramati, A., and Scheffer, C.”Empathy Decline and Its Reasons: A Systematic Review of Studies with Medical Students and Residents.” Academic Medicine 86.8 (2011): 996-1009. PubMed. NCBI. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • When does empathy erode in medical education?
  • What are some reasons offered for this erosion/decline?

Did You Know?Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. CFAP. Web. 1 June 2015.

  • What is compassion fatigue?
  • Who can suffer from it?

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