Name of the elective: Medicine and the Humanities

Supervisor: Dr.  Michel Shamy, Director of the Medicine and the Humanities program

Place: Roger Guindon Hall, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Duration: Five days, mornings and afternoons

Number of students: 10-15 students

Availability: Offered in both English and French: January 23rd to February 3rd, 2023

Contact: ohm@uottawa.ca. Tel.: 613 562-5800 x 8092


In this elective, participants will: 

  1. Reflect critically about the doctor’s roles and responsibilities towards society, as a person and as a health care provider.
  2. Reflect critically to better understand complex ethical issues.
  3. Explain the repercussions of the doctor’s and the patient’s values and perceptions in the care context, taking into consideration the meaning of the patient’s history and its interpretation.
  4. Explore texts in philosophy, anthropology and cognitive sciences in order to better structure their thoughts and build valid arguments.
  5. Improve the observation and listening skills they need for medical practice by writing to reflect on their own clinical experience.

This elective will help students to acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities relevant to clinical medicine by exploring the psychosocial aspects of medicine, ethics, the patient-doctor relationship, as well as the caregiver’s and the patient’s values. Students will also have the opportunity to develop their capacity for observation as well as their reflective and communication skills. They will explore their role as health care professionals in light of concepts derived from social and human sciences. They will gain a larger view of medical practice, beyond purely clinical abilities.

Training entails participation in interactive workshops, writing sessions, discussions, observation of artwork, reading of philosophical texts and completion of online self-learning modules.


Develop better tolerance for the uncertainty associated with health care delivery by addressing different views of the body and the spirit through the appreciation of philosophy, sociology and anthropology.

With the help of narrative medicine, listen more attentively to the patient’s history to better understand him/her.

Capacity to reconcile and integrate the scientific approach to illness by identifying cultural and social determinants of health and by exploring significant cases from medical history.

Develop clinical observation skills by observing works of art to understand the multiple interpretations that could show up in medical practice.

Develop collaborative relationships with peers.

Engage in reflective practice and creative expression to improve wellbeing.

Broaden approach to medicine beyond the biomedical aspect.


This elective offers 40 credits for the Medicine and the Humanities program. To be authorized to include a special mention in the Medical Student Performance Record (MSPR), the student will need to accumulate a minimum of 100 credit hours or obtain a Certificate of Merit in Medicine and the Humanities after accumulating 125 credits, and complete a special project. 

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