The human condition is rife with complexity, ambiguity, joys and sorrows. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practice of medicine.

The department of Behavioral Medicine, Medical Humanities & Bioethics is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the human community through the professional education and formation of ethically trained, medically competent and culturally sensitive healthcare providers. In its teaching, the department’s interdisciplinary faculty is committed to helping students: 1) learn the interpersonal skills of communication, hospitality, empathy, and compassion so necessary to effective patient-centered care, and 2) skillfully blend the science of medicine and human behavior with the art of interpreting and understanding the symptomatic communication of patients.

A cornerstone of osteopathic medicine is the relationship between structure and function. In its teaching, the department emphasizes the role mental and social structures play in shaping healthy behavior and people’s responses to illness. These structures include personality, family and institutional systems, cultural values, and religious and spiritual belief systems.

The department is committed to a case and evidence-based model of education that requires the mastery of knowledge of the medical sciences, and recognizes the influence the broader psychological, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of human life have on issues of health promotion, healthcare delivery and the prevention of disease.

The department strives to accomplish this mission through the following actions and commitments:

  • establishing learning environments that engage students at intellectual and emotional levels, while also fostering mutual respect, open discussion, and self-reflection;
  • teaching a working knowledge of the individual and systemic dimensions of life that affect health, illness and the healing process;
  • emphasizing how the quality of human relationships affect development, and how interpersonal abuse, violence and neglect have long-term deleterious effects on individuals and societies; and
  • modeling appreciation for every patient’s unique experience of illness and suffering.

We offer coursework in behavioral medicine, bioethics, psychiatry, and professional identity formation/physicianship.  We also offer opportunities to delve into the medical humanities (defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as “the study of the intersection of medicine and humanistic disciplines such as philosophy, religion, literature, and the fine and performing arts”).  For an annotated bibliography of resources related to the medical humanities, please click here.

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