This is the third year the elective will be offered at UNMC. The course is focused on teaching medical students that the difference between helping a patient and serving one lies with them.
Connecting with patients means connecting with what drew the health professional to pursue their chosen practice in the first place -- a genuine desire to care for others.
The Healer's Arts course is based on medical curriculum designed in 1991 by Rachel Remen, M.D., a pioneer in the mind-body holistic health movement. Dr. Remen was the first to recognize the role of the spirit in health and recovery from illness.
She is a clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine; and the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Health & Illness at Commonweal.
"More facilitators are needed for the course because the class size is being expanded from 60 students to 80," said Ruti Margalit, M.D., associate professor, health promotion, social and behavioral health in the UNMC College of Public Health and course director.
After training with Dr. Remen, Dr. Margalit introduced the Healer's Arts curriculum in 2011 as a way to "enable students to preserve their sense of meaning and calling and bring their full humanity to their work."
The curriculum utilizes contemplative studies, as well as creative arts and storytelling, to explore human dimensions of medicine rarely discussed in medical training.
"Where clerkships and classes make you feel rushed and constantly behind because there truly is much to learn, this course was a weekly opportunity to slow down," said Andrew Baumgartner, a fourth-year medical student. "It was a reminder that my development as a physician depends not only on how well I learn medicine, but also on how well I learn to care for myself."
Baumgartner, along with a group of other interested students, served as a leader in the first 2011 course.
"Since the course is steadily growing we are looking for additional faculty to help facilitate it," Dr. Margalit said.
The next course will begin in January of 2015 and continue for five consecutive weeks on Mondays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Commitment for the full length of the course (all five sessions) is required. If interested, please email Rebecca Wysosce, M.D.