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Humanism and Medicine, MSBS 5015S


Course Director:   Dr. Heather Lee

Dept. of Family Medicine and Community Health


Course description:
Thinking about health, wellness, and health care delivery from the individual's point of view raises interesting challenges for providers and policy makers. Using the social lens of individuals within their family, community and social systems, we will explore different questions about what constitutes good care and look at ways that health care providers can become humanistic healers as their patients' partner and advocate. Moreover, factoring in patients' communities will broaden our understanding of health care delivery. This course affords students an opportunity to read widely and reflect upon many issues that impact the health and well-being of individual patients, their families and communities.


Introduction to Patient-Centered Medicine (PCM)
Theoretical basis and emergence of interest in PCM
Core concepts of PCM
Implications for providers & team-based care delivery
Contribution of primary care providers
How a Syndemics Approach to Health Adds to our Understanding
Definition of Syndemics
Thinking of public health from a systems approach
Applying the Syndemics lens to public health problems
Family Involvement & Healthcare over the Life Course
The importance of families in the provision of health care
Seeing the patient in his/her family context
Economics & Health
Healthy aging
Recap of Course Topics:
Presentations of interview findings: what have we studied and how has it changed/shaped our understanding of patients and their healthcare needs
Reviewing Needs Assessment and Evaluation
Patients & Families within a Cultural Context
Why is an understanding of cultural diversity important?
Language differences, interpreters
Healthcare Providers & the Community
How does one gain an understanding of community and appreciation for culture? What differences do advocacy and coalition building do to our approach to community care?
Community Experience
Common medical problems
Acute complaints
Chronic illness
Psychiatric Disorders
How do families cope with behavioral/psychiatric crises in a proactive and productive way?
Disabilities: Physical, Intellectual & Vulnerable Populations
What ways do families respond to disability (from birth and recently acquired)? What kinds of social supports and resources are available?
Patient Navigation of the Medical System
Case studies: Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes
What are society’s responsibilities to provide resources and support for those with chronic illness?
Recap of Issues of Patient & Family Centered Medical Care
The challenges of providing care
Network of caregivers
Death & Dying
What are ethical, responsible ways to support the dying? How do healthcare providers respond to family wishes and concerns?
Patient Advocacy,
What are patient advocates and how do they help the vulnerable or patients without power?
Presentation of Final Projects
Patient- and Community-Oriented Approach to significant health problem