New medical humanities program seeks to prepare ethical, empathic experts

New medical humanities program seeks to prepare ethical, empathic experts
July 1, 2009

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

Doctors in films or on television often seem more preoccupied with romance or personal problems than with their patients. Worse, some of these medical professionals are depicted as beings without conscience or feeling. This kind of thing makes good entertainment, but patients can hardly be willing to put their lives in the hands of doctors like Alex Baldwin’s character Dr. Jed Hill in the movie “Malice,” whose greed is masked by a pathological arrogance. In real life, patients are increasingly seeking medical professionals who are not only experts, but are also ethically grounded and psychologically informed – doctors, nurses and technicians who are attuned to the human condition, suffering and personal responsibility. Benedictine University’s new Bachelor of Arts in Medical Humanities program integrates the fields of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology) and the arts (literature, film, visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. “Literature and the arts help develop skills of observation, empathy and self-reflection,” said program director Elizabeth Kubek, Ph.D. “Social sciences help us understand how medicine is practiced within cultural and social contexts. The humanities offer insight into the human condition and our responsibility to each other. “Benedictine University is an ideal arena to bring these seemingly disparate academic identities together because of our excellence in the sciences, our values-based liberal arts curriculum, our commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition and our Benedictine core values which promote consideration of the whole person,” she added. The goal of the Medical Humanities program at Benedictine is to foster students’ awareness of the interconnectedness and relevance to life of the various academic disciplines; to expose students to ideas and practices that “humanize” medical science; and to encourage students to recognize the connection between practical knowledge, ethical values and other people. The program is also designed to foster a spirit of collaboration between students and faculty; to educate future professionals who are both accomplished in their fields and engaged, responsible global citizens; and to promote the creation of a medical community that regards the patient and practitioners as whole persons. “The program specifically targets students whose post-baccalaureate goals include medical school or graduate study in Medical Humanities,” Kubek said. For more information about the Bachelor of Arts in Medical Humanities program at Benedictine University, contact the Enrollment Center at (630) 829-6300 or by e-mail at admissions@ben.edu.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.