The Informal “Track” in Medical Humanities/Arts

GOALS. The goal of the Program in Medical Humanities & Arts is to increase empathy and compassionate understanding among medical students and residents towards patients, colleagues, and self through the development of self-reflective processes and skills of interpersonal observation and interpretation.

HONORS and AWARDS. Students who complete several components of the informal medical humanities/arts track described below are eligible to be considered for:

  1. Graduation with distinction in humanities/arts, a designation for students who have participated in a range of humanities/arts-based activities and produced a significant body of original artistic work related to medicine over the course of their medical school studies
  2. The UC Irvine School of Medicine Arts and Humanities Award, recognizing a student who has excelled in humanities/arts during medical school

INFORMAL “TRACK” in MEDICAL HUMANITIES/ARTS. For students interested in using the humanities and arts to understand more about their medical school experience, the patient’s experience of illness, and the doctor-patient relationship, the following specific options are available:


Year 1

  1. Anatomy clinical correlate in humanities: Anatomy session in which family members share stories of donors and their decision to donate; while students share reactions to dissection. Contributions of original art, music, or poetry by students.
  2. Literature and medicine elective (“Doctors’ Stories/ Patients’ Stories”) (transcript notation elective): a 10 session class that looks at various psychosocial topics in medicine through the poetry and prose of doctors and patients
  3. Arts and medicine elective (“Examine the Painting/Examine the Patient”) (transcript notation elective): a 10 session class that deepens visual thinking through an examination of classic narrative artwork.
  4. History of medicine elective. A 10 session class that highlights significant turning points in the history of medicine.
  5. Improvisational Theater elective (“Playing Doctor”). A 10 session class that teaches improvisational theater skills as ways of enhancing presence, attention, focus, empathy, and teambuilding
  6. “Good Doc/Bad Doc” theatrical performance: Part of Introduction to Geriatric Medicine session
  7. Student Senior Partner Program creative projects option: creative projects to examine lessons learned about aging as a result of participating in SSPP.

Year 2

  1. Reflective/creative writing elective (transcript notation elective): A more intensive, small group elective for students who wish to continue to explore their medical school experience through reflective writing, complemented by more in-depth study of first person physician and patient narratives

Year 3

  1. Pediatrics clerkship creative project: A creative project completed during the Pediatric clerkship using any artistic medium that examines student/patient/family issues that occur on pediatrics.
  2. Internal medicine clerkship: Telling stories about patients session.
  3. Family Medicine clerkship: Medical readers’ theater experience; difficult patient-doctor interaction reflection session

For your participation in these activities to be considered toward a graduation with distinction designation, you must write 250 words for each activity that addresses the following question: How did this experience affect who you are and who you are becoming as a doctor?

Year 4

  1. Humanities/Arts Research elective (2-4 week credit): Students interested in more in-depth exposure to medical humanities may undertake a humanities/arts-based research project in which they investigate a particular topic in medicine from a humanities/arts perspective; and produce a final report.
  2. Art of Doctoring elective (2 week credit): This elective focuses on helping students sustain and deepen attitudes of compassion and empathy toward patients, colleagues, and self.  The elective includes a reflective writing requirement, as well as a creative project option.

Years 1,2,3,4

Plexus, the UC Irvine-SOM journal of arts & humanities.  Students may serve on the editorial board of the journal, and as editor-in-chief in Year 2.

MEDleys, an a cappella singing group that performs at UCI-SOM functions and for various community organizations.

Attendance at/active involvement in planning special humanities/arts-related events, such as museum visits, theatrical or musical performances, art exhibits, and lecture series.