Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 22:02
Boston College has a long list of interdisciplinary minors, ranging from American Studies, to Faith, Peace, and Justice, to Psychoanalytic Studies. Recent work by English professor Amy Boesky and a group of 16 faculty members may result in the addition of another to the list—the Medical Humanities, Health, and Culture (MMHC) minor.
Such a minor would incorporate classes from several departments, including theology, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and nursing, giving interested students a variety of classes from which to choose. The goal of the minor, Boesky said, is to attract a wide range of students and provide a background for considering the “big questions” of healthcare through a variety of lenses—scientific, historical, theological, and sociological.
An MMHC minor at BC would likely be immensely popular. A large number of students at BC plan to attend medical school post-graduation, and many medical schools look favorably on students who have experience with the questions of medicine beyond the physical and biological sciences. During the 2011-12 academic year, more than 1,800 students—almost 20 percent of the student population—were enrolled in the pre-medical program. While this minor would undoubtedly be popular among these students, its relevance doesn’t end with students interested in attending medical school.
Perhaps the most appealing part of an MMHC minor, in fact, is its flexibility and broad applicability. It would include a variety of topics, ranging from end-of-life issues and medical lawmaking to healthcare law and economics. Many students who come to BC with the intention of studying pre-med change their mind during the first or second year. An MMHC minor would offer another option to these students who may lose interest in the science of medicine or the prospects of medical school, but who still have an interest in the dynamics of healthcare.
A prime example is students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in public health. While there are a vast number of resources for students interested in medical or dental graduate school at BC, there are not as many resources for students interested in going on to study for a master’s degree in public health. An MMHC minor would allow these students to focus in on issues of global health and ethics, giving them practical experience that would help greatly in graduate school applications. Even economics or CSOM students particularly interested in healthcare may be interested in an MMHC minor.
A medical humanities minor would also capitalize on both the strengths of BC’s faculty and the growth of interdisciplinary study at the University. Particularly in the theology department, BC is well known for faculty who are experts in ethics and moral theology. Bioethics is a strong suit of several of these professors, and their work is widely cited in a variety of areas related to medical humanities. Offering an MMHC minor would draw students to their classes who otherwise might not have the course space or interest to take them. Recent analysis of the core, as well, has resulted in plans to increase the interdisciplinary nature of core classes. An MMHC minor would go along with this theme—educating the whole person on big questions in the field of healthcare from a variety of different perspectives.