Medical Humanities

Medical Humanities strives to understand what it means to be human, and to explore how we experience health, illness, and healthcare.

Humanities, social sciences and the arts play a critical role in emergency medicine. They enable us to search for meaning, stimulate sensitivity, develop clinical empathy, uncover insights, reduce suffering, and create a humanistic clinical experience.

Medical humanities draws on a wide range of exploration, including :

Understanding all dimensions of medicine, including economic, political, social, cross-cultural, gender, sexuality, race, class, and age.

Using the arts (e.g. film, painting and literature) to represent health, illness, healthcare, etc., allowing us to learn through experience.

Examining power, discipline, and knowing, and critically analyzing what we do as it relates to humanity and the principles of justice.  

Developing teaching and learning methods that cultivate self-awareness and commitment to the wellness of others. Fostering professional identities that go beyond merely plumbers of the body, to include empathy and resilience.

Learn more about our multi-disciplinary curriculum.


Visit our extensive collection of URLs related to medical humanities, art and medicine, bioethics, history and literature of medicine, multimedia resources, and databases.

See resources.

View recent research.

Making the Connections

Due to the multi-disiplinary nature of medical humanities, faculty and students have many opportunities to connect with experts within the university and around the country, through collaborations and presentations.

Poster presentation and data collection for virtual reality study on interruptions in the patient-physician interaction at the 2018 International Health Humanities Consortium Conference.

The Four Pillars

The integration of the four pillars of Medical Humanities are represented by William Osler, who established bedside teaching and provides context; Paul Cezanne, to represent experience; the stethoscope and gavel to illustrate the importance of critical and conceptual thinking; and the doctor creation to represent formation through self-awareness and a commitment to wellness.


Henry A. Curtis, M.D., FACEP, FAAEM

Section Director and Film/Virtual Reality Lead

Jason Lowe, D.O.

Mobile Media Lead

Anne Merritt, M.D.

Literature Lead

Michael Bresler, M.D.

Music Lead

Barbie Barrett, M.D.

Stanford Associated Faculty

Mark Algee-Hewitt

Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities, Director of Stanford Literary Lab

Jonathan Berger

Denning Family Provostial Professor, Music

Lauren Edwards, M.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine

Jacqueline Genovese

Academic Research and PRGM Officer, School of Medicine – Biomedical Ethics

Maren Monsen, M.D.

Director, Program in Bioethics and Film at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

Samuel Rodriguez, M.D.

Founder and Co-director of Stanford CHARIOT program for children

Audrey Shafer, M.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology, Director of Stanford Medicine and the MUSE program

Laura Wittman

Associate Professor of French and Italian

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Department of Emergency Medicine
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