Northwestern State University is offering a new undergraduate certificate in Medical Humanities that is administered through the Louisiana Scholars’ College but is open to all students.
“The field of medical humanities offers perspectives on medicine and health drawn from the arts, literature, history, philosophy and the social sciences,” said Dr. Keith Dromm, professor of philosophy and coordinator of special curricula. “It is a growing field that is increasingly becoming part of the education of health professionals. It is a valuable credential for students pursuing a career in healthcare. It signals to schools and employers that the student has a broad understanding of medicine, including its social, cultural and ethical dimensions. For students in other fields, like education or humanities, it gives them a timely and important area of expertise that they could utilize in their careers and graduate studies.”
The certificate’s core courses are taught in the Scholars’ College. One of these, SPHI 3100 Professional Ethics, will be taught in the Spring 2024 semester. Other courses will be taught through disciplines throughout the university. Because of its interdisciplinary curriculum, courses that fulfill students’ major requirements may also fulfill requirements of the certificate. For some majors, like biology or psychology, students only need to take a few extra classes to earn the certificate, Dromm said.
The field of Medical Humanities began in the late 1960s when scholars who believed that the understanding of human health could be extended by drawing on disciplines outside of the natural sciences. Today, courses in medical humanities are offered in more than 80 percent of medical schools. At the undergraduate level, universities across the country offer majors, minors and/or certificates in medical humanities, or they sponsor other initiatives that promote and disseminate medical humanities scholarship.
The aim of medical humanities is to expand and extend knowledge of medicine as well as better prepare those aspiring to careers in health professions.
“It aims to produce more effective and empathic clinicians and to produce in others knowledge that will lead to improvements to healthcare,” Dromm said. “Many envision it becoming an integral part of medical education.”
Information on the program is available at: https://www.nsula.edu/scholars/certificate-programs/