Since the Fall of 2015 a Medical Humanities minor program has been offered by the department of English at ONU.
The Medical Humanities minor encompasses ethics, literature, philosophy, religion, sociology and communications. The minor requires a total
of 19 credit hours of a group of General Education requirements. These courses fulfill many requirements that are already in place in the General Education system.
Dr. Douglas Dowland, Assistant Professor of English, developed the Medical Humanities minor and coordinates it within a multidisciplinary committee of professors including Rebecca Brooks, Dr. Mark Dixon, Dr. Christine North and Dr. Megan Clegg-Kraynok.
The Raabe College of Pharmacy has been largely supportive of the minor, with Assistant Dean Dr. Kelly Shields advising students in the details of the program. The nursing and pre-med program have also shown interest in the minor.
Dr. Dowland found during his first years at ONU a need for something to cultivate the “human side of things.” Dowland said, “ONU students didn’t really appreciate their gen eds because they couldn’t see a connection between their professional lives and their gen eds. How does Organic Chemistry relate to Western Civ? How does Lit and Medicine relate to POP (Profession of Pharmacy)? Those connections were not being encouraged.”
There are currently about 20 students participating within the minor’s classes. Dr. Dowland has at least six students who have declared the minor.
The Medical Humanities minor consists of more than just several courses that are required. The minor includes an “Integrative Portfolio.” The portfolio acts as a miniature capstone for the program, which sets the Medical Humanities minor apart from others in which there is no final culminating project.
The “Integrative Portfolio” has students go through research and papers they have done in general education classes as part of the minor and synthesize what they have learned through the minor, with the goal of establishing tangible ideas that students can apply to their professional studies.
Dr. Dowland spoke on what kind of student should take the minor: “A student who is looking to take general education courses themed around their major if they’re in health care. A student who is looking to synthesize and get more out of their college experience.”
The minor is not meant to fulfill credits, it is a space in which to explore and understand.
Dr. Dowland looks for students with a certain mindset: “I’m going to need students with initiative and determination. I need students that are curious and who care.”
The healthcare education programs across the U.S. are making a shift toward the humanities that directly relate to areas such as bedside manner. The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) has added material on the humanities to gauge prospective students’ critical thinking outside of just being able to take an exam on distinct material in the sciences.
The minor gives students the resources to realize that, as Dr. Dowland says, “Their academic pursuits are human pursuits.”
Students can fit this program in to their major, whether it be pharmacy, nursing, pre-med, or any other major on campus.
Students who have questions about the minor and/or its classes can feel free to ask Dr. Dowland. The program can be used to supplement professional healthcare related programs at ONU. It is about examining and understanding the topics that drive the healthcare profession forward.