UT Arlington Offers New Medical Humanities Course

The University of Texas at Arlington will offer an interdisciplinary medical humanities class, HUMA 3340 (for undergraduate and degreed undergraduate students) and (HUMA 5392, for graduate students), that will be housed in the Department of Philosophy and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts.  Elisabeth Cawthon, Dean of the college, envisions that the class will be appealing to students with a broad scope of interests ranging from pre-health professions to non-health related fields.  Cawthon explains, “The course is ideal for health and science majors, as well as students pursuing the liberal arts.”

Dr. Gellman Headshot for Medical Humanities CourseThe class will be taught Dr. Steven Gellman, a physician who practiced for over 30 years. Cawthon continued, “Dr. Gellman is uniquely qualified to deliver a message on the need to explore medical issues with perspectives nested to social sciences and humanities with an emphasis in the art of communication.” Medical humanities is built upon the academic disciplines of the social sciences, humanities and arts. It is the study of the human experience and encourages empathy, creativity and compassion in the health field as well as all other people-related professions. UT Arlington students will benefit from Gellman’s diverse background. In 2017, he transitioned to academia following a successful career as a board-certified family physician. As part of his practice, Gellman taught UT Southwestern medical students and residents. Besides his medical and academic accomplishments, Gellman has also had a lifelong interest in photography and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree specializing in photography.

Gellman said he pursued creation of the course at UTA when he became concerned about “the loss of the person” in today’s increasingly technological medical environment. He explained, “I realized that medical humanities provides a way to correct this imbalance. Learning medical humanities successfully encourages a more understanding and imaginative graduate.”  While Gellman’s observations come from his experience teaching medical humanities specifically to medical students, he asserts that since the curriculum focus is on the human experience, the course is appropriate for any student who is considering a career involving people.

Medical schools have reacted to an increasing need for medical care to approach the patient as an individual, not just a medical case. Gellman said, “Today’s pre-health professions programs need to address the changing profile of the ideal medical school applicant. Aside from the core pre-med courses, the student needs to demonstrate proficiency in people skills; that phenomenon will specifically be addressed in HUMA 3340.”

Pursuing a deeper understanding of medical humanities is in accordance with UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020 Bold Solutions l Global Impact, focusing on transformational research in the areas of health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact and data-driven discovery.

Registration for the medical humanities summer elective course (HUMA 3340, undergraduates; HUMA 5392, graduates) ends June 3, 2018.  Fall registration ends August 21.  The course will include thought provoking readings, movies and art observation. It may also include a journal, creative project, field trip, community outreach, or other opportunity for personal development. Visit MYMAV to register.

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