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University of Pittsburgh

Medical Humanities Area of Concentration

Just as medicine draws from science to understand and address disease and disability, the interdisciplinary field of medical humanities draws from the humanities to enable physicians to provide more perceptive and sensitive care. To enhance medical science and its clinical application, medical humanities synthesizes knowledge from the diverse domains of anthropology, cultural studies, ethics, film, history, law, literature, philosophy, religion, sociology, art, writing, and women's studies.

Through this novel area of concentration, students gain an enriched appreciation of the social context in which bioscience interventions and debates take place. They explore how medicine and culture interact to shape provider and patient identities, health care practices, and health care institutions. In addition, they gain critical analytical skills needed to participate in the broader public conversation and scholarship about health care.

Students work with a mentor to tailor the content of their AoC and to learn how to apply medical humanities perspectives within clinical contexts. The AoC is designed to help individuals become a part of a broader community of medical humanities scholars and practitioners both locally and nationally through participation in the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.


Students who enroll in the Area of Concentration:

  • Select and meet with a mentor
  • Attend six local medical humanities professional educational activities during each of three years. Examples include: Bioethics and Health Law Grand Rounds, Health Policy Institute Lectures, Literature and Medicine Reading Group, and Reynolds History of Medicine Lectures.
  • Maintain membership in the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities for at least three years and attend one national meeting.
  • Complete two graduate-level medical humanities courses (typically one during the first two years, and a second during the third or fourth year).
  • Complete two fourth-year medical humanities electives.
  • Apply medical humanities approaches within one clinical rotation.


School of Medicine Medical Humanities AoC


For further information, and to learn how to enroll in the program, please contact:

Director of Admissions
Center for Bioethics and Health Law
Barco Law Building, Room 519
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-648-7007