Doctor of Medical Humanities

Q. How did you become interested in medical humanities?
A.
My academic interests have always been extremely interdisciplinary. As an undergraduate, my senior seminar was an incredible course on literature and medicine, and I became fascinated with the intersection between these seemingly disparate areas of study. I then completed an interdisciplinary master’s degree in humanities and social thought, where I focused my course work in literary theory, the history of medicine and science studies.

Q. That brings us to your doctorate, yes?
A.
Yes. I knew that I wanted to pursue doctoral studies, but I did not want to limit myself within the narrow bounds of a single discipline. I was thrilled to discover Drew’s D.M.H. program, which has allowed me to draw from multiple fields of study to construct my own concentration.

Q. How are you finding the program?
A.
Drew’s medical humanities program offers a great combination of theoretical course work and applied experience. This crucial combination of theory and application will enable me to effect positive changes in our health care system.

Q. Can you give an example of an inspiring class experience?
A.
Last spring in my “Advanced Studies in Medical Narrative” course, we examined the literary works of alcoholic and substance abusing modernist American writers. While I studied literature as an undergraduate, I had never approached a text from the perspective of addiction and co-dependency. This course truly sparked my interest, and I strongly believe that this is a place in which medical humanities is much needed, as addiction is a complex disease that manifests both physically and psychologically. I am taking “The Literature of Addiction” this semester and will focus my dissertation on this subject, and next spring, one of my professors will be helping me arrange a field research experience at an addiction treatment center.

Q. I understand you also work part time in Drew’s biology department counseling undergraduate pre-health students. You’re a busy woman!
A.
Serving as a pre-health adviser puts me on the frontlines. By meeting with these students so early in their academic careers, I am able to emphasize the importance of fully exploring their humanities and social science interests, which will inform and enhance their future medical work.

Q. Do you foresee this experience benefitting you in the future?
A.
The dual experience as both a medical humanist and a pre-medical adviser will certainly serve me well in my career in medical school administration. I believe I will be equipped to serve the medical student community better for having worked so closely with the pre-medical student community.

Q. You mention a career in medical school administration. Can you expound?
A.
I foresee my dissertation research on addiction narratives enabling me to work in the rehabilitative setting; but ultimately I plan to utilize my training as a medical humanist to work in medical education in order to infuse the curriculum and training with a more humanistic approach. So, you see, like the program itself, my career goals are multifaceted and interdisciplinary.