Overview

The Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities foundation area enables medical students to study a chosen area in depth as a complement to the breadth of knowledge and skills gained by general medical education. Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities is an opportunity for interested students to reflect on, analyze, and contribute to the meaning of medicine by focusing on one (or more!) of the diverse fields that contribute to bioethics and/or the arts and humanities as related to medicine. Resources and events related to medical humanities can be found by exploring the Arts, Humanities, and Medicine Program.

Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities students will be able to examine the ethical and humanistic dimensions of research and practice, and focus on issues that they will confront whether at the laboratory bench or at the bedside. We define "Biomedical Ethics" as broadly encompassing the examination of the ethics of all biomedical research, medicine, and health care. We envision the "Humanities" to include the traditional humanities fields of literature, philosophy, history, religion, and the arts (visual, theatre, media), as well as humanities-oriented social sciences (including anthropology and sociology).

Here are examples of topics within Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities: the impact of medical and technologic advances (such as genomics, stem cell research, etc); neuroethics; history of medicine; issues of health care access and public health policy; doctor-patient relationship and communication; end-of-life issues; medicine and the media; medicine and society; literature and medicine; medical anthropology; empathy and the experience of illness; the arts and medicine. There are many more.

Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities is a richly interdisciplinary concentration. For example, a student who wishes to do a film on choices in the neonatal intensive care unit would study filmmaking and editing, communication, family interactions, neonatology, issues of limited resources, ethics of medical advances, informed consent issues, etc.

Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities is a union of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Arts and Humanities Medical Scholars Program. In addition, due to the medical school's ideal location on the same campus as the University, medical students in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities benefit from multiple opportunities for interdisciplinary work across the campus.

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