Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field that includes the humanities, social science, and the arts and their application to medical education and practice. Literature (first person physician/patient narratives, memoirs, and fiction) and the arts (film, theater, visual arts) can serve to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection that are essential for humane and effective medical care. Thus, incorporating a study of medical humanities into medical education can help medical students and physicians improve their clinical skills.
Linda Raphael, Ph.D., directs the Medical Humanities Program at GW. She holds an MA in History and a Ph.D. in English and studied philosophy as a postgraduate at Oxford University. She was a faculty member at Ohio State University before joining the faculty in the GW Department of English in 1996. In 2005 she developed courses in narrative and medicine and became the Director of Medical Humanities at SMHS. She is the author of Narrative Skepticism: Representations of Consciousness in Fiction (2001), When Night Fell: An Anthology of Holocaust Short Stories (1999), and articles and book-length essays on the fiction of Henry James, Charles Dickens, and the representation of cultural and historical events in fiction. She serves on the GWU Hospital Ethics Committee and the GWU Faculty and Physician Wellness Committee. Her research and writing are increasingly directed toward narrative and medicine, including “how doctors listen to patients” and “what patients want in a physician.”
At the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, there are multiple opportunities to visit medical humanities as a medical student, resident or fellow, and faculty physician. Explore the links on this site to learn more!