Today, the science of medicine allows patients to come and go from the doctor’s office
almost anonymously, prescriptions and lab results in hand.
The humanities aspect of medicine allows caregivers and patients to connect with each other as people, including those of different cultural backgrounds, economic status, or religions, which is critical in palliative care, hospice, times of crisis and moments of celebration.
Literature allows people to experience worlds outside their own understanding. Patients, like books, require interpretation, and it is the humanities – the traditionally interpretative disciplines – that offer caregivers an effective way of understanding patients and their stories.
Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care™ is a national award-winning, hospital-based, scholar-led humanities reading and discussion program for health care professionals that aims to improve patient-caregiver interaction. Participants explore works of poetry, fiction, drama, and non-fiction that offer health care workers, policy makers, hospital trustees, and other staff an opportunity to reflect on what is at the heart of healthcare.
In 2007, the Delaware Humanities Forum introduced the program to the First State, in partnership with the Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Christiana Healthcare System in Newark. DHF also offered its own program, a lecture and community discussion featuring award winning author Anne Fadiman, in April 2008. DHF welcomed a third partnership with Bayhealth participants in 2009, which included Kent and Sussex County participants for the first time. In 2012 DHF brought the Literature and Medicine program to the Veterans Administration Medical Center of Wilmington.
Visit Maine Humanities Council, program creator, for more information.
Whether you are a medical professional, caregiver, or lay person, we encourage you to read, Imagine What It’s Like, a literature and medicine anthology, to experience the worlds of patients and their caregivers.