Hook Scholars Information

Edward W. Hook Scholars in Humanities and Ethics

The Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities (CBEH) announces the Edward W. Hook Scholars in Humanities and Ethics, a four-year undergraduate medical education program in humanities, ethics, and arts.


Longtime Department of Medicine chair Edward W. Hook MD MACP (1924-1998) was a celebrated clinician, investigator, teacher, and national medical leader who inspired others to understand disease, doctoring, and health in terms of culture, class, geography, the arts, ethics, economics, psychology, and politics as well as the biological sciences. He sought to train better, more humanistic doctors by helping medical students and residents develop and deploy core clinical competencies of observation, reflection, moral awareness, and compassion. He was fiercely committed to his trainees, faculty, and staff and the patients they served. While chair of Medicine, Dr. Hook was the founding chair of UVA’s hospital ethics committee and also led the effort to purchase and place original art work in public areas of University Hospital. He created the medical school’s first faculty position in biomedical ethics (John Fletcher PhD, 1988), and, when he retired as department chair in 1991, Dr. Hook founded and directed the Program of Humanities in Medicine that preceded our Center.

The Hook Scholars in Humanities and Ethics is a program named in Dr. Hook’s memory—with his family’s blessing—and generally modeled on UVA’s Generalist Scholars Program (GSP). Like the GSP, the Hook initiative complements the four-year undergraduate medical curriculum. Each year, the program welcomes up to four first-year medical students as Hook Scholars, providing them with a humanities, bioethics, and arts pathway through their four years of medical education and into their medical careers.

Program goals

The Hook Scholars Program has the following goals:

  • To promote research and scholarship linking medical humanities, bioethics, and arts interests to skill sets that
  • improve core clinical skills to ensure better patient care (e.g., listening, attention and observation, compassion, communication, perspective-taking, creativity, narrative medicine, moral awareness, self-reflection)
  • improve teaching (e.g., knowledge of humanities and bioethics resources and research methods and arts practices, reflection and reflective pedagogies, multimedia presentations, mindfulness)
  • advance personal, public, and global health (e.g., cultural awareness, Spanish language facility, historical perspectives, religious/spiritual traditions)
  • inform public policy, community service, and leadership (e.g., emotional intelligence, interprofessional teamwork, organizational and management skills, appreciative inquiry)
  • To inspire the best UVA undergraduates with liberal arts backgrounds and also those from the national pool of talented applicants to choose careers in medicine and to apply to/matriculate at UVA School of Medicine
  • To promote careers for physicians in medical humanities and bioethics
  • To encourage physicians to pursue scholarly inquiry and creative arts practices that address health, illness, and well-being

 Program description

Hook Scholars are a vibrant part of the life of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities. They are encouraged to take central or leadership roles in activities in or associated with CBEH, including an array of fourth-year elective courses and individualized research projects, the Sloane Society (student-led medical humanities interest group), Veritas (students’ annual literary and visual art journal and annual art show), a student-led bioethics interest group, Gold Humanism Honor Society, Health Screenings (a film screening/discussion program), and Medical Center Hour.

Students apply to and are selected for the program midway through the first year of medical school. Up to four Hook Scholars are chosen each year. Those who are selected have demonstrated interest and/or accomplishments in the humanities, bioethics, and/or the fine and performing arts and intend to keep such interest active, aligned with, and applied throughout their medical studies. The Hook Scholars Program provides an organizational and operational framework, research opportunities, and mentoring so that scholars can fully integrate such humanities, bioethics, and arts pursuits into all four years of their medical education and into their professional identity formation.

Program expectations

Each Hook Scholar will

  • in the summer following first year, pursue a scholarly research project, to be carried out over seven weeks in residence at CBEH and with CBEH faculty supervision, possibly under the auspices of UVA’s NIH-sponsored Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP), with summer fees and a modest stipend paid; newly selected scholars will meet with CBEH faculty to discuss and agree upon research projects, which may be part of ongoing CBEH scholarly initiatives [CBEH faculty must approve any alternative and/or nonresidential activity during this first summer]
  • receive mentoring from CBEH faculty across all four years of medical school
  • in fourth year, complete an independent research project (or arts portfolio) during elective time (up to eight weeks) in residence at CBEH and present it at a Hook Scholars gathering before graduation
  • also in fourth year, spend at least four (and up to eight) more weeks in electives in humanities/bioethics, including a two-week Hook Scholars capstone course, “The Calls of Medicine”
  • attend CBEH meetings, retreats, and activities
  • participate in the Hook Scholars’ vertical community, with opportunities to model for and mentor one another and to develop learning and service projects
  • join CBEH faculty in creating curricular modules, co-curricular programming, and Medical Center Hour programs
  • be a CBEH ambassador, thereby promoting CBEH programs and perspectives across the medical school, medical center, and university
  • advise CBEH on ways and means of involving students in the center’s scholarly and service missions

CBEH will offer the Hook Scholars

  • membership in a robust community of scholars specializing in biomedical ethics, humanities, and the arts as these relate to health and illness, medicine, and medical education
  • faculty mentoring in the student’s interest area across all four years of medical school
  • the resources of the center, including the lending library and space for study and gathering
  • expanded opportunities for independent research and elective coursework in humanities and ethics
  • special seminars, activities, and retreats
  • interactions with visiting scholars


For further information about the Hook Scholars in Humanities and Ethics, contact the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, UVA School of Medicine, 434.924.5974 (https://med.virginia.edu/biomedical-ethics/), or Daniel M. Becker MD MFA (dmb2y@virginia.edu) or Marcia Day Childress PhD (woolf@virginia.edu).