Medical Humanities Collaboration

Medicine and Compassion [recently published article]

Ten years ago Italian Studies partnered with the Emory School of Medicine to create the "ideal pre-health course" which all admission committees would like to see on applicant's transcripts. The following is a segment of an article the faculty of this course wrote (Academic Exchange, December 2008) illustrating the objectives for this endeavor:

The word "compassion" literally translates from Latin as "to suffer together." The word "patient," again from the Latin, reveals both "bearing and enduring without complaint" and the "suffering or sick person." Linking these two words is the idea of suffering. The person offering compassion is offering to share in the sick person's suffering. Do heathcare professionals need to be reminded, or perhaps even taught, that compassion reflects true listening and speaking with our brains, our minds, and our hearts? Most importantly, can we teach these concepts to students considering careers in healthcare? These questions took on an immediacy six years ago when Judy Raggi Moore of the Emory College faculty asked Ruth Parker of the School of Medicine faculty to design a course that would integrate an undergraduate medical humanities course with the cultural studies in Italy summer curriculum. In other words, propose a class that would both help prepare future healthcare professionals and engage the cultural immersion they would experience. Parker surveyed colleagues and leading medical faculty around the country: if they could offer one course taught in Italy to pre-medical students today, what would it be? The sense that Emory's popular pre-medical curricula lacked "education of the heart" led them to try to create one essential pre-health career course. For the past five summers, Emory undergraduates enrolled in Medicine and Compassion have spent six weeks asking, "What is compassion?" The main goal of the course is for each student to understand how compassion relates to the profession of medicine. Using moral imagination as a tool for inquiry, students examine historical and recent work from the humanities: literature, philosophy, the arts, and numerous cultural and social renditions of complex concepts such as love, care, mercy, pity, sorrow, death, and healing. They are asked to explore compassion and medicine both as private individuals and as professionals called to the work of healing. Faculty from the School of Medicine (Parker) and the CDC (Cantey), along with Raggi Moore and faculty from the humanities, social sciences, and sciences provide cross-disciplinary insights.

We have had students from all disciplines, and from multiple colleges/universities, take this course: sciences, business, pre-law, humanities, and in fact recommend it highly to any student who would value rigorous cross-discplinary academic inquiry. Furthermore, you will learn to translate your thoughts and emotions into eloquent written format under the guidance of two Emory medical doctors and a third year Emory medical student. Learn first hand how these successful professionals reached their career goals while investigating multiple disciplinary opportunities as well as traveling around the world. When else will you have the opportunity to consult with professionals on your future ambitions and desired career path?

Last summer the program was further enhanced through the participation of Dr. Cory Labrecque, from the School of Ethics. Over the years numerous faculty from across the College have participated, recently Dr. Arri Eisen of Biology who offered a perspective on the nature of evidence in science and religion, using historical figures such as Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei as case studies.

All of this unique shared introspection occurs while delving deeply and authentically into Italian culture, traveling from North to South of this amazing country, the "cradle of Western Civilization", the "cradle of the Humanities". You will be guided by Dr. Raggi Moore who is not only an Italian native, but has been conducting academic tours of Italy for over twentysix years. There are no other university level academic programs at this level, offering you both a targeted focus on the world of healthcare and an authentic immersion into the culture of Italy.

Please contact program director if you are interested in receiving more information on this course.

Prof. Judy Raggi Moore
Director, Italian Studies Program
Emory University
415N Callaway Bldg., 537 Kilgo Circle
Atlanta, Georgia  30322  USA
Office: (404) 727-4566