Anyone considering a career in health care understands the importance of having clinical experience prior to becoming a doctor or nurse. But a group of students at The University of Mississippi not only obtained that experience at Baptist North Mississippi, they did it as undergraduates exploring the ethical, social and cultural issues in medicine.
Fall 2016 was the first time the Medical Humanities course, as well as Society and Population Health course, were offered at the university. Sarah Moses, PhD, assistant professor of religion at The University of Mississippi, said already there is a waiting list for fall 2017.
“This is a highly sought-out experience,” said Sarah. “Students not only shadowed physicians and nurses, they followed social workers, the cancer navigator, the chaplain…this gave them a true holistic view of what is involved in health care today. And it’s so valuable for them to be able to do this as undergraduates, before they adopt their professional identity. Everyone at Baptist opened up to them and gave them rare insights.”
Classroom time included discussions and readings on a variety of topics, such as community, becoming a doctor, burdens and benefits of modern medicine, aging, dying, gender, race, patient-professional relationship, social justice and more.
“This program allowed students to look at the human dimension of medicine, not only in terms of the patient, but the professional as well,” said Sarah. “The discussions about professional dynamics between health care providers were especially informative, as was the opportunity for students to see first-hand the issue of rural access. For example, patients traveling an hour for their cancer treatment.”
The popularity of these classes is prompting Sarah and her colleagues to consider expanding the program. “Currently we only offer this in the fall, however we might expand to spring as well,” she said. “The university is blessed to have a hospital partner like Baptist that will give students an opportunity to get out of the classroom and learn.”