A painting is seen in the hallway of Penn State College of Medicine. It depicts scenes from campus, including surgeons at work, a sheet-draped person in a hospital bed and more, in soft neutral tones.

Department of Humanities

Humanities Projects and Initiatives

The Department of Humanities pursues scholarship to advance knowledge, improve teaching and contribute to the community on local, national and international levels.

The department's innovative research includes topics such as graphic medicine; vaccination controversy; child abuse; end-of-life decision making; ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research; nursing and nurse relationships; Alzheimer’s and dementia care and experience; and professional identity formation among medical students.

The department is addressing race and social justice within medicine and biomedical research and seeks to transform care practices, pedagogy and institutional norms with humanistic perspectives on illness, medicine and health in the 21st century.

The Department of Humanities also reaches into the health care setting to improve patient and provider experience with programs focusing on compassion and empathy, often using arts and music.

Learn more about some of the department's initiatives and programs here.

Center Stage

Center Stage enhances the healthcare experience by showcasing art, music and creative writing that calms, nurtures and inspires. Through Center Stage, we seek ways to enhance the well-being of individuals who come through our doors, whether they are patients, caregivers, employees or students.

Learn more about Center Stage

The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine

The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine is an endowment that supports projects and initiatives that promote compassion in healthcare settings. This work has flourished with the support of many departments and includes ambassadors from throughout the hospital, medical school and community.

Learn more about the Kienle Center

Ethics Pocket Cards

The ethics consultation service at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center developed ethics pocket cards to summarize, in a clear and accessible manner, core knowledge about clinical ethics. We hope that these cards will be helpful not only to individual health professionals, but also to institutions who may wish to develop similar materials for their own use.

Learn more about Ethics Pocket Cards

Graphic Narratives

Since 2009, fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine have created comics as part of a course called "Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives." The course was developed to show students how graphics and text can be used to effectively communicate complex medical narratives and to help students develop their own stories into graphic depictions.

Learn more about Graphic Narratives

Patients as Teachers Project

Embedded into the first year of the MD student curriculum is the experiential Patients as Teachers Project, which involves students visiting patients in their homes to learn about the lived experience of illness. Some students make short films about their patients and screen them in each spring. Others write essays reflecting on what they have learned from their patients or develop creative projects to honor their patients' stories.

Learn more about Patients as Teachers

iLook Out for Child Abuse

iLook Out for Child Abuse is an online mandated-reporter training that uses interactive videos to help early childhood professionals learn when and how to report suspected child abuse.

Learn more about iLook Out for Child Abuse

Physician Writers Group

Penn State Health's Physician Writers Group is a workshop for clinicians who are interested in creative writing for publication in professional medical journals, hosted by Dr. Kimberly Myers, who holds a doctorate in literature.

Learn more about Physician Writers Group

Snapshots of Strength

Snapshots of Strength provides families struggling against pediatric cancers with professional-quality images that celebrate their children's resilience and strength. Snapshots of Strength is a partnership between Dan Shapiro, PhD, Richard Hammer, MD, and the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children's Hospital.

Learn more about Snapshots of Strength

Wild Onions

Wild Onions is an annual journal of poetry, prose and visual art funded by The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine. All works in Wild Onions are created by members of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center community. Most entries pertain to some dimension of medicine, but submissions are welcomed on all topics.

Learn more and submit to Wild Onions

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