Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities

The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities (CBMH) provides a platform to incorporate ethics and professionalism into the curriculum of UMMC schools and training programs as core values of our learning, service and research communities. Our mission, however, goes further to equip faculty, staff and students with skills to better understand the socio-cultural context in which modern health care takes place. Appreciation of this context deepens our engagement with the human aspects of disease, its treatment and its study, enriching our understanding of how patients experience illness and injury.

The CBMH achieves this mission through:
  • Ethics curriculum development
  • Professionalism education
  • Consultation regarding ethical dilemmas in health care
  • Research into social and cultural determinants of health
  • Exploration of the medical humanities including history, anthropology, literature and philosophy

Social and Cultural Determinants of Health

Health and illness are phenomena which are not experienced solely biologically. Beyond the function, or dysfunction, of biological systems there are a number of factors which affect both our health and how we experience illness and disease. These factors are known as “social determinants of health.” Research has proven that physical environment, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, and health literacy level all play important roles in the health of individuals and of communities. The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities conducts research to further contribute to the current body of knowledge relating to health determinants.

Literary Explorations

The Center encourages the reflective use of literature by members of the UMMC community. An annual writing competition, “Writes…of spring” asks participants to reflect upon a medical encounter of their own – from a provider or patient perspective – and share how that particular experience has affected change in their life. Submissions have ranged from poems to short stories to essays and have provided an outlet to share unique perspectives for the enjoyment and reflection of others.

Professionalism Resource Catalog

The Professionalism Resource Catalog (PRC) exists as an instructional tool. Individual curriculum elements which can be imbedded into existing instruction are made available for faculty use. Each element in the curriculum can be used either by course instructors or as a presentation by a member of the CBMH staff. Topics covered in the PRC include professionalism, ethics, and engagement. Elements include PowerPoint presentations, small group activities, films and literary works.