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 an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.