Medical and Health Humanities

Dr. Amanda M. Caleb, Program Director

The Medical and Health Humanities program applies humanistic skills— critical assessment, reflective learning, collaborative problem-solving, and effective communication—to issues in healthcare and medicine and with an emphasis on cultural, familial, philosophical, spiritual, and social factors.

Dr. Caleb with students

But what does that mean?

It means looking at health care holistically, considering not just the physical body that aches, but the person who seeks treatment, the family and friends who support that person, and the social structures that influence the person’s care. It means asking difficult questions about health care—how is disease constructed and how does that construction impact care?—and working on solutions to ensure respect and dignity within all aspects of health care. It means making a lasting difference in the world.

Medical Humanities

We view our program as not only meeting students where they are and helping them achieve their best selves, but also transforming the concept of health itself through these Humanities’ skills. Through its transdisciplinary structure and scaffolded experiential learning, our program challenges students to critically examine medicine and health care, and to apply their academic knowledge to practice in a meaningful and lasting manner that prepares students for leadership roles in health practice and research.

Additionally, at 44 credits, the curriculum’s flexibility allows students to pursue a second major, minor, or certification in complementary programs.

Medical and Health Humanities Minor

A minor in Medical and Health Humanities is also available. The minor is designed for students who are interested in the intersection of medicine, health, and humanities, and who wish to complement their major courses. This minor is particularly useful for students majoring in any of the health sciences, social sciences, or the humanities..

For more information on the Medical and Health Humanities program, contact the program director, Dr. Amanda M. Caleb, at acaleb@misericordia.edu, 570-674-8113.

For more information about our admissions process, contact us at admiss@misericordia.edu or 1-866-262-6363.

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Quick Facts and Outcomes

The Medical and Health Humanities program applies humanistic skills—critical assessment, reflective learning, collaborative problem-solving, and effective communication—to issues in health care and medicine and with an emphasis on cultural, familial, philosophical, spiritual, and social factors. Through its transdisciplinary structure and experiential learning, the program challenges students to critically examine medicine and health care, and to apply their academic knowledge to practice in a meaningful and lasting manner that prepares students for leadership roles in health practice and research.

The MHH program is concerned with topics such as:

  • How health and disease impacts overall care;
  • How culture impacts healthcare;
  • How medicine encourages and limits human dignity;
  • How narrative plays a role in shaping patient-centered care;
  • What it means to have autonomy in the age of modern medicine.

What makes Misericordia’s MHH program stand out from all the rest:

Misericordia’s MHH Program makes us distinct because our requirement of a fieldwork placement/internship, which is part of our scaffolded experiential learning, funded by a 2018-20 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. MHH Program requires 44 credits in MHH Core, Humanities & Medicine, Critical Health Studies, Global Health Studies, and MHH Electives, leaving room to pursuing a second major or minor(s).

Job opportunities for a Bachelors of Arts in Medical & Health Humanities degree include the following fields:

  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Medical/Healthcare Writing
  • Health Care Administration & Safety Management
  • Medical/Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Health Care Advocacy
  • Medicine & Dentistry
  • Health Education
  • Pharmacology
  • Health Law
  • Physical Therapy
  • Medical Anthropology & Medical Sociology
  • Public Health & Public Policy

Note: A recent alumna went on to obtain her Master’s at UPENN in Bioethics, and an alumnus who double majored in Nursing is currently working as a registered nurse in a hospital.

MHH students have completed their Fieldwork experiences at:

  • Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Palliative Care
  • Chamber Hill Strategies, an advocacy group in Washington, DC
  • Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics, and the Holocaust
  • Misericordia’s Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine, and Health

Program Goals

  1. Develop knowledge of how non-medical disciplines contribute to the study of health, illness, and care.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of how cultural and social perspectives impact the concept of health.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of factors that complicate health care delivery and health care access.
  4. Develop communication skills (written, oral, and visual) across multiple disciplines that will prepare them for professional life and/or graduate school.

Major Requirements

Students in the Medical and Health Humanities major must complete the following requirements; the total number of credits, including University Core Curriculum Requirements and Electives, required for graduation with the Medical and Health Humanities major is 120:

MHH core (24 credits)

  • BIO 211: Anatomy & Physiology I
  • BIO 212: Anatomy & Physiology II
  • MHH 201: Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities
  • MHH 301: Narrative Medicine
  • MHH 460: Fieldwork OR MHH 465: Internship
  • PHL 310: Medical Ethics
  • MHH 450: Senior Thesis

Humanities and Medicine (6 credits)

  • ENG 305: Literature and Medicine
  • HIS 342: History of Medicine and Health
  • PHL 315: Philosophy of Medicine

Critical Health Studies (6 credits)

  • MHH 310: Health Disparities
  • MHH 312: Health and Human Rights
  • MHH 314: Environmental Health
  • MHH 316: Race, Gender, and Health

Global Health Studies (3 credits)

  • MHH 330: Global Health Populations
  • MHH 332: Medical Geography
  • MHH 334: Modern Epidemics and Pandemics

MHH Electives (9 credits). At least two courses must be at the 300+ level.

  • ADC 340A: Chemical Additions and Dependency
  • ENG 225: Disability in Literature
  • FA 213: Themes in Medical Humanities
  • FA 361: Music and the Mind
  • FA 374: Anatomical Drawing
  • HIS 165: The History of Human Rights
  • HP 220: American Sign Language
  • MHH 385: Special Topics in Medical and Health Humanities
  • MHH 380: Independent Study
  • PHL 202: Environmental Philosophy
  • PHL 210: Philosophy of Person
  • POL 330: Urban Policy: Disadvantaged Youth
  • POL 404: US Health Care Policy
  • PSY 277: Adult Development and Aging
  • PSY 307: Health Psychology
  • PSY 310: Gender Studies
  • RLS 117: Christian Health Care Ethics
  • RLS 215: Death and Dying
  • SWK 320: Trauma and Resiliency
  • Students may take additional courses from the Humanities and Medicine, Critical Health Studies, and/or Global Health banks if they are not taken as a required course.

Note: Students may count an elective course toward both the major and core curriculum requirements


Additional electives may be counted toward the degree requirements; please consult with the program director to verify if a course counts toward the major. Electives for the Medical and Health Humanities major may count toward core curriculum requirements.

Career Preparation

The MHH program is built around experiential learning, preparing students for their future careers. The program requires students to complete a minimum of 3 credits in fieldwork or internship.

Fieldwork: Students will be exposed to team-based medicine and the application of medical and health humanities concepts in an on-site observation rotation at a local hospital. Students will participate in an observation rotation in an approved division and attend ethics meetings.

Internship: Students will be exposed to medical and health humanities practices and apply academic knowledge to work experience at a medical or health organization, nonprofit, or government organization.


Internship Blogs

Minor Requirements

  • MHH 201: Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities (4 credits)
  • One of the following:
    • ENG 305: Literature and Medicine
    • HIS 342: History of Medicine and Health
    • MHH 301: Narrative Medicine
    • PHL 310: Medical Ethics
    • PHL 315: Philosophy of Medicine
  • One course from either the Critical Health Studies or Global Health bank (3 credits)
    • MHH 310: Health Disparities
    • MHH 312: Health and Human Rights
    • MHH 314: Environmental Health
    • MHH 316: Race, Gender, and Health
    • MHH 330: Global Health Populations
    • MHH 332: Medical Geography
    • MHH 334: Modern Epidemics and Pandemics
  • Two Electives (6 credits), chosen from the major elective list provided in the major description.

Admissions Requirements

The minimum criteria for admission into the Medical and Health Humanities program as a freshman student are:
  1. Class rank in the top half of the high school graduating class and/or a cumulative 2.5 grade point average
  2. Minimum combined SAT score of 850 for Critical Reading and Math (combined) if taken prior to March 5, 2016, or 930 if taken after March 5, 2016. In lieu of the SAT, ACT results may be presented with a minimum required composite score of 18
Successful transfer applicants will typically hold a minimum collegiate grade point average of 2.0, having completed at least 15 college credits, and have a proven record of success in high school.

Please note the above listed requirements are general, and that each application is looked at thoroughly, taking into account individual grades, academic rigor, and other factors.

Testimonials

Kevin Forsyth

"MHH is a fantastic major. It allows students to explore the art of medicine. Students can learn about the value of a patient narrative and the concepts behind compassionate care. Additionally, it provides a space for individuals to discuss social and ethical issues in health and medicine. This not only allows for students to become informed about health care issues, it allows for the adoption or at least understanding of different perspectives from various social groups."

~ Kevin Forsyth ’18
Medical & Health Humanities and Nursing


“Since I began my undergraduate degree I knew I wanted to make a difference in healthcare. I choose the Medical and Health Humanities program at Misericordia because it offered a unique approach to understanding healthcare that was different from other programs. It allows students to discuss important ethical issues and emphasizes the importance of human dignity in healthcare. The faculty is knowledgeable and always willing to help you reach your goals both academically and professionally.”

~ Courtney Pisano
Class of 2019
Medical & Health Humanities


Keana Albert"The flexibility of the Medical and Health Humanities program not only allowed me to follow my pre-medicine dreams, but also gave me the freedom to pursue my other passions such as: studying abroad (twice), adding a second major in Biology, and minoring in both Chemistry and Ethics. This program allows me to continually grow in ways that traditional pre-medicine programs could not. It is with the pursuit of this program that I aspire to be a person of compassion and understanding in a healthcare system that tends to be cold."

~ Keana Albert
Class of 2020
Medical & Health Humanities and Biology/Pre-Med

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