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About HEAL

Message from Dr. Pamela Schaff
Director,
Humanities, Ethics/Economics, Arts and the Law (HEAL) Program

The HEAL Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC provides students with the tools they need to develop their professional identities as they accept the complexities of a life committed to health care. Medical students are confronted with an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge and must embrace their role as lifelong learners—as physician-citizen-scientists—who are open to diverse perspectives, willing to grapple with uncertainty, to seek the expertise of colleagues and their patients, and to find joy in their chosen profession. The HEAL program prepares students to care for patients as complete human beings, not as injuries or illnesses: HEAL offers over 200 hours of curricular content and is enhanced by collaboration with scholars from the University Park Campus, and an artist and musician-in-residence.

Core Curriculum

The HEAL Program is an integrating feature across all four years of the KSOM curriculum. HEAL content and skills are delivered in required pre-clinical and clinical coursework, electives, creative writing workshops, and events that feature speakers whose expertise encompasses domains within the humanities, ethics, economics, art, and law. This longitudinal course of study builds skills in critical reflection, ethical decision-making, analysis of healthcare policy, and systems-based approaches to patient safety. It progresses from the personal to the professional, beginning with students’ examination of their own values and personal ethics, and moves toward the critical examination of the physician’s role in society.

HEAL Program Goals:

  • Stimulate imagination, curiosity, skills of close observation, and careful interpretation through engagement with the arts and humanities
  • Promote critical reflection on professional experience and its meaning
  • Provide longitudinal, integrated instruction in health care ethics and ethical decision-making
  • Provide longitudinal, integrated instruction in health care policy, economics, and the business of medicine
  • Foster the capacity to analyze policy in light of the economic, legal, social, and ethical dimensions of health care
  • Develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to participate in a systems-based approach to medical practice and the promotion of patient safety

Learner outcome objectives (and corresponding Keck Educational Objectives) include the following:

  • Apply skills of reflective practice in the service of fostering professional identity formation. Lifelong learning and experience-based improvement, professionalism.
  • Apply effective, compassionate communication in medical practice. Interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Apply SPIKES protocol to impart bad news. Interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Apply core principles of medical ethics to clinical scenarios. Ethical judgement.
  • Critically examine the impact of health systems and health policies on patients, health care providers, and populations. Medical knowledge.
  • Perform the steps of a root cause analysis to identify risk-reduction strategies in a systems approach to patient safety. Community and systems-based practice.

Co-Curricular Elements

In addition to the core-curricular content, including electives in Narrative Medicine, Law and Medicine, and Health Policy, the HEAL Program offers a rich array of co-curricular elements that educate our students and provide them with opportunities that nurture and support their overall resilience. This innovative content includes the following:

  • The Musician-in-Residence offers piano lessons and brings outside artists to campus in order to support well-being and resiliency; enhance listening, communication, and interpersonal connections skills; and build community on campus.
  • The Hoyt Gallery features rotating shows to align the work of patient-artists with the core medical school curriculum and to foster enhanced understanding between patients and future health care professionals.
  • The Artist-in-Residence curates shows in the Hoyt Gallery; facilitates artist lectures; hosts art classes for medical students to promote self-expression; and teaches in the Year II Medical Arts and Humanities elective.
  • Lunch and Learn Lecture Series is a cross-campus initiative that brings scholars in the humanities, social sciences, film, theater, and law to the health sciences campus in order to inform our collective understanding of the health of individuals, communities, and societies.
  • Narrative Medicine Workshops introduce students and faculty to the tenets of Narrative Medicine, specifically the practice of close reading; provide a space for participants to think about how words and language evolve over time and within a given context.
  • Creative Writing Workshops introduce students to the craft of writing; allow students to explore their ideas and experiences (in and outside of the clinic) and develop as writers.
  • Synaesthesia, Keck School of Medicine’s literature and art publication, provides opportunities for written and artistic self-expression.
  • Lingual Verve, the faculty-student reading group, hosts presentations and discussions about works relevant to the lives and studies of medical professionals.
  • Visions and Voices Events, USC’s university-wide arts and humanities initiative, showcases critically acclaimed artists and distinguished speakers.

Partnerships

ArtRX (USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work)

Gehr Family Center for Health Systems Science

USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences

USC Gould School of Law

USC MESH (Medicine, Engineering, Science, and Humanities) Academy

USC Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics

USC School of Dramatic Arts

USC Visions and Voices

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