Health humanities programs for undergraduates have quadrupled since 2000. For pre-med students, they can offer insight about the social and cultural contexts of health care.
With an eye toward applying to medical school, Trucian Ostheimer opted for the biomedical humanities major at Hiram College in Ohio, in 1999. In addition to standard pre-med fare such as biology, genetics, and chemistry, he also took courses in literature, communications, theatrical production, and death and dying. “In the process, I learned how to learn,” he said. “I felt comfortable jumping into any class. I truly believe that made med school easier for me than it would have been otherwise.”
Most important, Ostheimer, now 35, completed his MD at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and an ophthalmology residency at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. His undergraduate path exposed him to ideas concerning the ethical allocation of health resources and caring for the homeless and vulnerable members of society. Fittingly, he took a job in a health system located in an underserved area of Central Washington.