What can YOU do with a degree in Medical Humanities & Health Studies?

Hear from some of our current students and alumni:

 Danielle Lenz

Danielle Lenz

Winner of the MHHS Outstanding Achievement Award

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have studied Medical Humanities and Health Studies here at IUPUI.  The benefits of this interdisciplinary education are pretty intuitive for those interested in healthcare: we are called to the healing profession with the desire to be sensitive, attuned, and empathetic to the holistic needs of our patients and colleagues.  By exploring illness and healing through fields such as literature, sociology, ontology, ethics, and anthropology, this program grows the intellect and spirit so that we can do just that.  I cannot emphasize enough how prepared I feel to care for my future patients and walk with them through the journey of healing.

What makes this program stand out to me, though, is the faculty—they are not afraid to ask the hard questions and wander through them with their students.  They shaped who I am and how I interact with the world. Inherent to illness is vulnerability and recognizing this shared vulnerability allows us to realize our shared humanity.  With each class period, I think I came to realize that this is not a program about those who are well helping those who are sick. This is simply (and most complexly) a program about us. By studying the journey of illness and healing, we are studying the journey of life.  That’s expansive and probably unfathomable to those who have not experienced a MHHS class, but there’s nothing more valuable.  I’ve come to believe everyone should study Medical Humanities, regardless of their intended profession.  This department has been a gift, and I hope anyone with even the slightest inclination toward this course of study takes the leap.  I could not have made a better decision when I did."

Cassandra Smith

Cassandra Smith

MHHS Minor

Indiana University School of Nursing

"Getting a minor in Medical Humanities helped me gain a more holistic, and deeper understanding of the patient’s perspective.  Through the Medical Humanities courses we looked at health care throughout history and how it has evolved in various cultures.  We examined previous treatments that patients had available, and took the time to really think about what it would have been like to be a patient in a different time period.  I enjoyed the readings that focused on what it is like to be the patient receiving care, and experiencing an illness, or disease. The readings helped me develop a deeper sense of empathy for my patients.  I feel that the minor has taught me to look at the big picture and not just the current diagnosis at hand.  I would highly recommend a Minor in Medical Humanities to any Nursing student who likes to really dive into a topic and piece together many details for a more holistic outlook."

Nicole Hensel

Nicole Helsel

B.A., Individualized Major in Medical Humanities & Health Studies (2011)

Purdue University School of Pharmacy 

"I did not understand healthcare beyond science, technology, the diagnosis of diseases, and the treatments for those diseases.  I was focused on what the pharmacy profession could do for me and not what I  could do for the profession, and ultimately, the patient.  By shaping my education into an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study of medicine, I have gained an understanding of the humanistic, social, and  cultural elements of healthcare.  Further, I have also learned how medical practitioners influence patients as they experience health, disease, suffering, and dying….Perhaps the most important lesson that I  have learned is the importance of treating the entire patient: body, mind, spirit, and soul…I believe that my Medical Humanities Health Studies education is a major reason why I was accepted into Purdue’s School of Pharmacy."

 Photo: Evan Torline

Evan Torline

MHHS Minor

MS-I, University of Louisville School of Medicine 

"In retrospect, I chose my major of Biology because I saw it as the study of life. As it was, the only things that sparked my curiosity were what you would call the larger questions of life. I found that while biology described life in ways I never knew existed, it was far from satisfying any questions I had of life as it was lived out.

I later on discovered and dove into the study of medical humanities because it was the study of life as people actually experienced it. The rich historical accounts of medical drama and innovation, the thought provoking poems of experiences of human suffering and triumph, and the tense debates on just action in bio-medical ethical issues gave much needed dimension to my scientific understanding of how the world is. Now, because of my introduction to medical humanities through IUPUI, I can see the greater picture of life, and corresponding disease and illness, in the lives of my fellow men and women. By studying it from the perspective of the human experience, I am giving my knowledge of biology a context to work in."

Photo of Eric Keller

Eric Keller

MHHS Minor

MS-I, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Graduate School 

"In my opinion, the Medical Humanities program at IUPUI is one of the most valuable opportunities a student can pursue if he/she is interested in healthcare. Growing up I have often felt like a jack of all trades yet master of none. It was not until I discovered the multidisciplinary field of medical humanities that I really started to develop my current career goals. I believe modern medicine has become a multidiscipliary art more than ever before.

The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have featured a surge of life-saving and enhancement technologies which require modern practitioners to face new ethical dilemmas. Not only do I believe that studying medical humanities will make me a better physician, but it will allow me use my other talents and interests to contribute to my community through writing about current bioethical issues.Overall, the MHHS minor has equipped me with a deeper understanding of the medical profession and helped me discover a career goal which I never would have previously imagined. This I owe to the wonderful faculty members and courses which have stimulated my thinking and supported me along the way. Thus I would strongly encourage any student interested in healthcare to seek out the many wonderful opportunities provided by IUPUI’s Medical Humanities Department."

Wyndy Smelter

Wyndy Greene Smelser

Manager, Client Service

G&S Research, Inc., Kennesaw, GA 

"The MHHS capstone was a phenomenal experience! Working in the Applied Medical Sociology Laboratory offered me the ability to participate in an active research project on
adolescent mental health as an undergraduate. I highly recommend the Medical Humanities
& Health Studies minor to anyone interested in moving beyond a reductionistic biological focus in medicine to a more holistic synthesis of science, history, literature, ethics and research practices.
A must for those planningcareers in medicine and health related fields."


Macy Henderson

Macey Leigh Thompson Henderson, J.D.

CEO and Co-Founder of HERO Network

Research Associate, Indiana University School of Medicine, Section of Adolescent Medicine

J.D., Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington

Ph.D. student, Health Policy and Management, Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health

"The Medical Humanities and Health Studies program at IUPUI was the critical link between my non-clinical background, and my desire to become a part of the healthcare community.  I was an undergraduate Philosphy major with no direction-until I found Bioethics and Medical Humanities through the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. I believe that the integration of health studies into my curriculum made me an outstanding candidate for graduate school, particularly when I wanted to focus on both the medical community, and the healthcare system as a whole.  Since my time as an undergraduate at IUPUI, I have been able to fill my CV with several other experiences, however, I will never remove my undergraduate minor in Medical Humanities and Health Studies (MHHS), and will bear the education with pride.  If there was a recognized major in MHHS at the time, I most certainly would have jumped on the opportunity! An urban research institution like IUPUI, home of the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the absolute perfect place to house such a program in Indiana."

Pich Seekaew

Biology Major

Medical Humanities & Health Studies Minor

Matriculating Graduate Student in Neurology

Research Intern, Department of Neurosurgery, Indiana University School of Medicine

Joseph Russo Memorial Scholar

Top 100 Most Outstanding Student Award Recepient 2010-2011

"Several of the best classes I have taken during my undergraduate career here at IUPUI are from my Medical Humanities minor. I thought to be successful in a medical career, you’d need to only know science. Medical Humanities has taught me about the integrity of the medical profession and the compassion towards other professionals in the field including the patients. If I knew about this program my freshmen year, I would definitely do a double major in Biology and Medical Humanities. In my opinion, this program is one of the reasons why IUPUI is great and distinguishable prominent from other universities!"

Dillon Etter

Biology and Spanish Major

Chemistry and Medical Humanities & Health Studies Minor

Bepko Scholar

2012 Chancellor’s Scholar, IUPUI’s Honors College

"Choosing to minor in medical humanities was the best decision I made during my college career.  Although I made the decision a bit later than most students (during the fall of my senior year), I have gained more from my medical humanities classes than I ever anticipated.  As a pre-med student, I cannot underestimate the importance of a strong background in the humanities as well as the sciences.  I think that often times students who want to go into a health-related profession forget about the human aspect of medicine…that their future patients are people with hopes, dreams, goals, and emotions.  Medical humanities emphasizes the patient experience from a literary, bioethical and historical standpoint.  I am certain that the insights I have gained and continue to gain as a result of my training in medical humanities will be invaluable throughout my career as a physician."

Daniel Thacker

Bachelor of General Studies

"The usefulness of a Medical Humanities minor is manifold. It has influenced my academic, professional, and spiritual life. Academically and professionaly speaking, I was given the opportunity through the MHHS capstone course to do research with a Chancellor’s Professor. This research has led to my current employment, which has opened up an entire world for me that includes several scholarships that will pay for my graduate school and many contacts and opportunities that very few jobs could give. Also, the quality of professors in the Medical Humanities Program has challenged me to look at my world differently. Topics like death, aging, and disease are things I avoid automatically, but I have realized that this type of attitude is not acceptable for me and that I want to be more present in my life. I was able to apply what I heard in class in my everyday life, talking and sometimes just sitting with loved ones while they dealt with their own mortality. These are experiences that have forever changed me, and I was able to express these moments in class and in my school work. There was a freedom to share and learn from others that I have not experienced in my other classes. I am grateful that I found this program."

 George Kane (2013)

Individualized Major in Medical Humanities & Health Studies

Chemistry Minor

Bepko Scholar

"I chose the Medical Humanities program at IUPUI because, as a pre-med student, I wanted to develop a functional picture in my mind of a healthy human being which I could use to evaluate the health of my future patients. I was confident that medical school would teach me the physical aspects of health, but as a Christian, I believe that a healthy human life involves much more than mere biology. Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical letter The Gospel of Lifethat, "Respect for life requires that science and technology should always be at the service of man and his integral development. Society as a whole must respect, defend, and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life." This call to defend the dignity of human life also led me to choose the Medical Humanities program because of its unique focus on Bioethics. During my time in the program I’ve researched and written on critical bioethical issues, including end of life health care, organ trafficking, and medical decision making. I believe that my studies within the Medical Humanities program have broadened and enriched my understanding of health and humanity."