Electives for Fourth-Year Medical Students


Many fourth-year medical students are encouraged to round out their medical education at UVA with study of the health humanities and ethics. Humanities and ethics study can help learners to (1) practice certain core clinical skills (observation, attention, communication, teamwork, compassion, and tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty; (2) cultivate skills of critical and reflective thought; (3) reflect on ethics, values, traditions, spiritual concerns, and professional life; (4) explore the many dimensions and contexts of human experience; and (5) attend to their own formation as professionals. Skills acquired and refined through humanities and ethics study contribute to humanistic qualities and professional competencies that medical schools and residency programs routinely assess, including communication and narrative skills, empathy, self-reflection, ethics and professionalism, respect for others, cultural understanding, and understanding of medicine in society.

Humanities and ethics electives are offered throughout fourth year, usually as two- or four-week courses. A student may take up to eight weeks total of humanities and ethics course work toward graduation. Courses are offered only if there is an enrollment of at least four students.

Our humanities and ethics electives address core competencies as follows:

Core Competencies

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Narrative Medicine and Professionalism

Literature and Medicine
Images of Medicine in Film, Literature, and Visual Arts
Inter professional Seminars in Ethics & Professional Life

Biomedical Ethics

Clinical Ethics in Healthcare Systems
Health Policy and Administration
Reproductive Ethics and Law
Topics in Law, Medicine, and Society

Religious Traditions and Medicine

Mindful Practice/Mindful Life
Suffering, Medicine, and Faith

Cultural Competence

Culture and Medicine
Elementary Medical Spanish – Language & Culture
Intermediate Medical Spanish – Language & Culture

Medicine and Society

History of Medicine
Public Health in Fiction and Film
Ethics, Society, and Human Biology

All competencies

The Calls of Medicine
Independent Research in Humanities

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