The College is planning a new initiative in public health to combine medicine and the humanities and better prepare students for changing medical professions. The program is intended to appeal to students who are interested in any health profession, whether they intend to go to medical school or not.

“We have a lot of faculty and students who have interests in public health, but we don’t have a curriculum about it,” said Assistant Professor of History David Hecht.

According to Dean for Academic Affairs Jen Scanlon, the liberal arts are good preparation for medical school and other medical professions.

“We take great pride in preparing students for health professions and in doing so not just in one particular way,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon approached Hecht about the concept, and he will spend the next few months working with other faculty interested in the medical humanities to determine what form the initiative will take.

Hecht and Scanlon said the initiative will likely start next semester and possibly include course clusters, lecture series or symposia.

“[The initiative will look at] medicine from a science, social science and humanities perspective and bring students together to think across disciplines and across these kinds of boundaries,” Scanlon said. “It’s really a lot about the kind of boundary crossing that we’re able to do in a liberal arts environment.”

Part of the impetus for the initiative is the change in both medical schools and the medical profession. 

“Medical schools are changing in terms of what they think constitutes a good prospective medical school student and also what constitutes a good physician,” said Scanlon. “[We want to] think and talk about preparing our students for health professions careers and the compatibility of that with the liberal arts more broadly.”

Hecht believes that the courses will appeal to both humanities students interested in public health and medicine as well as pre-med students hoping to study some of the social implications of their chosen profession. 

This semester, Hecht plans to talk to faculty, staff and students to gauge interest in the program.