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Medical Humanities Program

Saint Louis University’s medical humanities minor can enhance your preparation for careers in medicine and health sciences by introducing you to works of literature, art and history that portray complex human experiences and conflicting values in patients and caregivers.

The program integrates core courses and elective courses in English, history, philosophy, theological studies, art history, medical sociology and health communication.

Our program is open to any undergraduate student at SLU who is interested in multicultural perspectives on health care. It is especially appropriate for those planning a career in medicine, medical law, health care or social service. It may also be of interest to humanities majors interested in patient advocacy, the applications of narrative medicine, historical and cultural studies of medicine, medical ethics, and art, music or narrative therapies.

Learn more about SLU's minor in medical humanities

Medical humanities emerged as a distinctive field in the 1970s when Joanne Trautmann Banks first compiled a database of medicine and literature.

As the skills and understanding promoted by medical humanities programs are more complex than can be satisfactorily addressed in the context of graduate study alone. We believe the learning required must begin at the undergraduate level in a systematic study of medical values.

To enroll, students should submit a copy of the Medical Humanities Advising Form to Anne Stiles, Ph.D., at

Program Mission and Goals

The mission of Saint Louis University’s medical humanities program is to provide undergraduates with a foundational understanding of and appreciation for the ways that studies in the humanities can ultimately enrich one's capacity to deliver quality health care.

The goals of the in medical humanities program are to:

  • Provide students with a recognition of the humanistic and cultural dimensions of health care and health care systems.
  • Promote an inquiry into the foundational values of medicine.
  • Provide students with a clarification of the values that underlie the experience of illness and care.
  • Promote an improved understanding of the ways that meanings of illness and health are historically and culturally constructed, and to promote a recognition of the treatment implications of this constructedness.
  • Cultivate interpretive and narrative competence and to develop an appreciation for the crucial role such competence plays in health care delivery.
  • Recognize the ways that aspirations of medical humanities resonate deeply with the mission of Saint Louis University.
  • Familiarize students with and cultivate the core competencies of medical education as designated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, as appropriate to an undergraduate curriculum.
  • Foster students' insights about prospects of research as clarified by the inquiries made in medical humanities.
  • Complete an optional internship in a medical setting.
  • Complete a substantial research paper as part of a capstone requirement and to present this paper in a public forum on campus.