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What Is The Program In Medical Humanities And Arts At UC Irvine School of Medicine?

The UC Irvine School of Medicine medical humanities and arts curricular initiative is a program designed to integrate arts and humanities-based materials into medical education. To date, the initiative has developed both required and elective curriculum in all four years of medical school and in two of our residency programs.

Activities include two literature-based  (literature and medicine and reflective reading and writing for medical students) and one arts-based elective offered in the preclinical years; a required “clinical correlate” in the first year anatomy course that brings family members of donors to interact with the students who have just completed dissection; a theatrical performance of “Good Doc/Bad Doc” to introduce first year students to Geriatrics; creative projects as a way of reflecting on patient encounters as part of the second year Student Senior Partners’ Program and in the third year Pediatric clerkships; telling stories about patients and about doctors during an Internal Medicine clerkship session; Medical Readers’ Theater and written reflective exercises about difficult patient-doctor interactions on the Family Medicine clerkship; a fourth year elective “Art of Doctoring” that enrolls 25-30% of the graduating class;  and a fourth year humanities research elective. The program also sponsors Plexus, a student-initiated journal of arts and humanities that publishes the work of members of the SOM community.

Over the years, PMHA has initiated a wide range of curricular initiatives with Patient/Doctor and Clinical Foundations required courses; as well as with many clinical clerkships and the Family Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residencies.  It has also sponsored professional conferences examining various aspects of medical humanities; and presented several medically-themed dramatic performances to audiences of medical students and faculty.

The Program in Medical Humanities & Arts came into existence as the result of funding from a HRSA training grant in Family Medicine; and from the UC Irvine SOM Office of Medical Education. Johanna Shapiro, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Family Medicine, is director of the program.