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Minor in Medical Humanities

The medical humanities minor (MEH) at Elmhurst University is an ideal complement to the natural science courses required for most health professions programs.

It represents an excellent way for students applying to professional health care programs to distinguish themselves from other applicants. Designed to help students develop the skills they need for humanistic health care delivery, the minor is open to any student interested in the intersection of medicine, science and caregiving as a humane art. The course of study focuses on ethical considerations in the clinician-patient relationship, as well as effective communication, integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect for patients and colleagues, empathy and service.


Elmhurst University student Kristen Hulbert. Kr

The medical humanities minor developed my passion for honoring the intersection of medical science and the human condition. The multidisciplinary coursework and clinical experiences sharpened my ability to support and empower patients with cultural competence, mindfulness and empathy as they experience their illness narratives.

— Kristen Hulbert ’18

Students who have completed the MEH minor have gone on to pursue careers in medicine, physician assistant studies, occupational therapy, veterinary medicine and health care administration, to name a few.

Medical humanities students gain real-world experience through internships at clinical sites such as:

  • Advocate Medical Group
  • Athletico
  • Artis Senior Living
  • Easterseals
  • Edward Hospital and Health Services
  • Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare
  • GiGi’s Playhouse
  • HCR ManorCare
  • Homewatch Caregivers
  • NorthShore Skokie Hospital
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Pekin Hospital
  • Rush Copley Medical Center
  • School of Expressive Arts and Learning
  • St. Charles Veterinary Clinic

Medical Humanities Courses

Required Courses

  • PHL 316 Ethical Aspects of Health Care or REL 332 Religious Ethics and Health Care
  • COM 114 Interpersonal Communication or COM 315 Intercultural Communication
  • MEH 490 Medical Humanities Clinical Experience (.25 credit)
  • MEH 491 Medical Humanities Seminar/Research Capstone (.25 credit)


Three courses are required—all from different disciplines/departments. Students can take more than one course with the MEH prefix.

  • BID 300 PHL/PSY Neuroethics
  • CSD 242 Towards Understanding Autism
  • CSD 247 Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Related Cognitive Disorders: Principles and Practices for Health and Human Service Providers
  • CSD 356 Children at Risk from Birth to Five
  • CSD 381 The China Experience
  • CSD 382 Global Perspectives in Communication and Disability: Costa Rica Experience
  • COM 318 Gender and Communication
  • COM 326 Health Communication
  • ENG 230 Readings in Race, Class and Gender
  • ENG 372 Multicultural/Postcolonial Literature
  • HIS 351 Disability in America
  • MEH 320 Quality/Safety in Health Care
  • MEH 321 Enhancing Health Care Through Our Stories
  • PH 250 A Systems Thinking Approach to the Social Determinants of Health
  • PH 310 Public Health and Global Citizenship
  • PHL 305 Philosophy of Science
  • PHL 316 Ethical Aspects of Health Care (if not taken as a core course)
  • PHL 326 Key Themes and Thinkers in Biomedicine
  • PSY 348 Health Psychology
  • REL 323 Religion and Science
  • REL 331 Religious Ethics and Human Sexuality
  • REL 332 Religious Ethics and Health Care (if not taken as a core course)
  • SOC 216/316 Society, Health and Illness
  • SOC 304 Race and Ethnic Relations
  • SPN 306 Medical Spanish

MEH electives must be selected from three different departments. At least three of the minor courses must be taken at the 300/400 level (not including the clinical experience or capstone). Students may take both of the core ethics courses, PHL 316 and REL 332, and apply them toward the seven required courses. If both of these courses are taken, then two electives beyond the core courses will complete the minor.

Sequencing of courses in the minor is important to the overall experience and learning objectives. Students must complete two core courses (ethics and communication courses) as well as one elective course for the minor prior to MEH 490 (or one of the alternative clinical experiences). The clinical experience is a prerequisite to MEH 491 Seminar Research/Capstone, and the capstone is only offered in the spring term.

Course Descriptions

One unit of credit equals four semester hours.

In this course, which is open to students in health care majors and preprofessional health care programs, students will work collaboratively to learn about the evolution of the culture of quality and safety in health care. Students will evaluate factors that have shaped this culture change. These include areas identified by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), including safety (infection control); quality improvement; evidence-based practice; patient-centered care; informatics; and interprofessional communication, collaboration and teamwork. In addition, the course will explore relevant historical influences, systems theory, professional ethics, population health, health literacy and health care finance.

This hybrid course explores how immersion into literary endeavors and humanities impacts clinicians and patients alike. By studying stories of both wellness and illness expressed through nonfiction, literature and poetry, students will enhance their abilities to be more empathetic, to develop new insights and observational skills, and to improve their ability to critically evaluate health care interactions. Articles from a variety of health care journals and literary sources will provide the basis of analysis. To demonstrate their understanding of the patient/ caregiver/clinician experience, students will contemplate what it is like to be in these roles and then will write about both their actual and imagined experiences. This course will be offered in a hybrid, or blended, format—class will meet twice weekly on campus and twice weekly online at the convenience of the students.

.25 credit

This course is a clinical experience involving 50 hours at an approved site. Interactions with both patients and health care professionals are important for students to develop some appreciation for working with people who are ill or infirm, for the teamwork expected of health professionals and for the seriousness of taking responsibility for the lives of others. Students maintain a reflective journal throughout the 50-hour clinical experience. The journal will include a running log of their hours as well as reflections on medical humanities and the clinical experience.

Prerequisites: junior or senior standing; completion of two core courses and one elective prior to the clinical experience; permission of the program coordinator. Also, students must meet with the program coordinator at least a semester in advance of the clinical experience. Grading option: P/NP.

CSD 476, CSD 477, NRS 309, KIN 450 are alternatives for MEH 490 for medical humanities minor clinical experience. For KIN 450 at least half of the required hours must be in a health care setting. Students interested in the alternative clinical experience must still complete the MEH core courses and at least one elective for the minor prior to enrolling. Permission to enroll in the medical humanities section of these alternative courses is required and should be obtained the previous semester.

.25 credit

This is a capstone course for the medical humanities minor. Weekly seminars, lectures, guest speakers and discussions are designed to develop a community of scholars engaging in wide-ranging discussions related to health care, ethics and the medical humanities. Each student completes a research investigation that has been approved by the instructor. Results of the research are presented orally to the seminar group and are submitted as a research paper.

Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, completion of the clinical experience and permission of a coordinator.

Erica Ashauer

Director, Pre-Professional Advising, Health Professions Advising
Russell G. Weigand Center for Professional Excellence

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