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Getting Started Guide Part 2: Nuts and Bolts of Integrating Arts and Humanities into Medical Education

The many activities listed in Part 1 provide guidance on ways to teach using the arts and humanities. In Part 2 we have put together a list of things to consider as you start planning activities for your learners.

Logo for the Fundamental Role of Arts and Humanities in Medical Education

Below are some tips on how to create partnerships with cultural institutions, how to choose arts and humanities material, and how you can join conversations about arts and humanities in medical education. For a more in-depth look at the beginning steps for developing and integrating arts and humanities curricula, read The Fundamental Role of the Arts and Humanities in Medical Education. Learn about specific activities for learners in the Getting Started Guide Part 1: Select Activities for Integrating the Arts and Humanities into Medical Education.

Should you have additional examples to submit for consideration, please email frahme@aamc.org with a description of the activity and suggested resources.

Explore the guide:

  1. Explore partnerships

  2. Select material thoughtfully

  3. Discuss, discover, and disseminate

1. Explore partnerships

Partnering with local or virtual experts or institutions can enhance learners' experiences with the arts and humanities. Partnership ensures that you have an expert available to guide you in work you may never have explored before, expands the number and variety of perspectives your learners are exposed to, and models interdisciplinary collaboration.

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2. Select material thoughtfully

There are many elements to consider when choosing a work of art, music, literature or film, or a primary historical document to use in teaching. Here are some guiding questions to have in mind:

  • What are the conversations you might have around this material that link to the goals of your session?
  • Is the material appropriate for the learners’ stage of professional development?
  • After exploring the material, will there be enough time left to allow for group discussion?
  • Whose voices and experiences are represented in this material? Whose voices and experiences are missing? Consider aspects such as gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, cultural practices and age as well as viewpoints of patients, caregivers, and health professionals who are not physicians.
  • Does the delivery of materials offer accessibility options such as open or closed captioning, descriptions of visuals for screen readers, audio descriptions, large print, etc.?
  • The Prism Model guides educators in considering different approaches to teaching through the use of arts and humanities depending on their objectives.

Use existing collections to explore material for use

There are many existing repositories and lists designed for the purpose of helping medical educators find arts and humanities material to use with learners.



Literary Arts


Visual Arts

Performance Art

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3. Discuss, discover and disseminate

If you feel out of your depth, could use suggestions for material, or would like to seek out a partner, here are some places to ask for help or engage in discussion:

If you would like to find or share creative work, reflections or case studies on medical humanities, here are some websites where you can discover and disseminate them:

  • AMA Journal of Ethics: An editorially-independent, monthly, peer-reviewed journal that often features health humanities articles, visuals and multimedia.
  • Creative Expressions During Times of Uncertainty: Website for the FRAHME Initiative of AAMC that publishes poems or 55-word stories about clinician experiences of uncertainty during 2020
  • MedEdPORTAL: The AAMC's peer-reviewed journal of teaching and learning resources that publishes lessons about arts and humanities in medical education
  • Academic Medicine: A peer-reviewed journal of the AAMC that publishes several humanities columns including Teaching and Learning Moments and Medicine and the ArtsA peer-reviewed journal of the AAMC that publishes several humanities columns including Teaching and Learning Moments and Medicine and the Arts
  • Art of the JAMA Network: A collection of essays and reviews about movies, literature, art, and theatre relevant to clinical medicine
  • Doctors Who Create: A website where medical students and physicians can find or submit their creative work of all kinds
  • Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest: An annual reflective writing contest for medical and nursing students sponsored by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation
  • Journal of Medical Humanities: A peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research on medical humanities, cultural studies and pedagogy in medicine and medical education
  • Medical Humanities: A BMJ journal that publishes scholarly and critical articles on the history and culture of medicine as well as bioethics
  • Places to publish medical narratives: A list of open-access and subscription journals that accept reflective writing about experiences in medical care
  • Pulse -- Voices from the Heart of Medicine: A website that publishes personal experiences of illness and healing
  • Teaching and Learning in Medicine: An international forum on teaching and learning in the health professions and health education
  • William Carlos Williams Medical Student Poetry Competition: An annual competition sponsored by Northeast Ohio Medical School open to students attending allopathic or osteopathic schools of medicine in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada

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