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Miami creates new medical humanities minor

The College of Arts and Science will establish a new minor in the fall called medical humanities. This minor will allow students to strengthen their skills in the "human" side of medicine while also learning to communicate effectively with all types of patients.

"This program allows students to think about the philosophical, ethical and historical aspects of medicine that they have never thought about before," said Cynthia Klestinec, director of graduate studies in the English department and coordinator of the medical humanities minor.

The idea for the minor came from a series that was done on medical humanities at the Miami University Humanities Center two years ago, and from there it has evolved to be a fully-functioning minor program.

The minor will impact students' success in their future careers and give them a competitive edge regarding medical school applications and interviews, Klestinec said. Coursework will teach students to think about the different experiences that patients may, or may not, be willing to talk about.

This skill, according to Klestinec, is essential to a student who aspires to enter the medical field.

"When people within medical schools started to ask 'how can we better prepare students' the answer was 'focus on patients,'" Klestinec said. "Then, they started to have opportunities for students to read novels and think about how the person was treated or stigmatized."

Medical humanities as a discipline is rising in popularity among universities in Ohio. Next fall, it will be offered by seven universities in the state, including Ohio State University and Ohio University.

Klestinec has visited classes of pre-med students to promote registration for the new program this fall, and many students are looking forward to it, including first-year Andrew Bellas, who is in the pre-med co-major.

"This program covers the humanities, which you can't get elsewhere from the pre-med co-major," Bellas said. "It will help us to be extra prepared ... In theory, it will make us better applicants. It will help us to manage better and score higher on the MCAT."

Many students who have entered medical school have already thought about issues in humanity and medicine, and this program will allow undergraduate students to get a head-start and a competitive advantage in the field, Klestinec said.

"I would like to think that by having a chance to think about a whole range of issues related to medicine and health care, that students would have some pretty thoughtful answers to give to those kinds of [medical school interview] questions," Klestinec said.

Registration is now open for the medical humanities minor. To register, a student should email Klestinec.

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"In the end, they would enter med school with such an intense experience and they would be able to excel at the human side of medicine in addition to the scientific side," Klestinec said.