Medical and Health Humanities


Medical and Health Humanities

About the Program

Humanizing medicine and care is the mission of the Medical and Health Humanities program at Drew University. The curriculum integrates academic inquiry and professional experience to prepare students for careers throughout the healthcare industry and beyond. With our flexible new DrewPath courses, you decide whether to attend a course on our Madison campus or remotely via video conference online.*

There is ever-growing demand for professionals who understand the ethical, political, historical, cultural and practical aspects of health care and who can influence the debate on good medicine and care in a society. Drew’s program in Medical and Health Humanities engages today’s urgent concerns for patients and health professionals:

  • the quality and experience of care in consulting rooms, hospital wards, residential care facilities, and local homes.
  • the relationship between health care as scientific knowledge and evidence-based medicine and the intangible needs and qualitative experience of professionals, patients and their families.
  • the contributions of the creative arts, ethical theory, and socio-political analysis to humanizing medicine and increasing wellbeing and healing for the individual and society.

The Medical and Health Humanities program can be completed on a full- and part-time basis, allowing flexibility to accommodate your schedule. Designed with working professionals in mind, courses are offered in the late afternoon and early evening. The program can be followed in a hybrid form: by a combination of synchronous distance learning and on-campus activities.

The Medical and Health Humanities program is conducted in partnership with Overlook Medical Center and Atlantic Health Systems. We assist you in developing your internship or practicum at hospitals, non-profits, always tailored to your professional goals, to be completed in your local area or with one of our partners at Atlantic Health Systems in the New Jersey/New York area. Our University library and research support are always available to Drew students no matter where they live. You can do independent study with Drew’s national and internationally renowned faculty.

Program Requirements

Certificate in Medical Humanities (15 credits)

Requires the completion of five courses. Four of the courses (Medical and Health Humanities Seminar, Medical Humanities Practicum, Biomedical Ethics, and Introduction to Narrative Medicine) are mandatory. The remaining course may be taken as an elective.

Master of Arts in Medical Humanities, Health and Society (30 credits)

Requires the completion of nine courses plus thesis, or if on the non-thesis track, a total of eleven courses. Five courses are required. The remaining courses are taken as seminar electives.

Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities (45 credits)

Requires the completion of twelve courses. Seven courses are required. The remaining five courses are taken as seminar electives. All Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities students must prepare and successfully defend a nine-credit doctoral dissertation of 150-220 pages.

Listen to the First Episode of Quantum Narratives, our Medical and Health Humanities Podcast

The Quantum Narratives podcast aims to shed light on the “medicine” that emerges out of creativity and stories to thwart implicit biases that contribute to healthcare disparities as a result of structural inequalities and racism. Hosted by Nakaweesi Katongole and Merel Visse. Produced and sponsored by the Medical and Health Humanities Program at Drew University.

In this inaugural episode, Nakaweesi and Merel talk with their Drew colleague Kenneth Ngwa, director Global Health and Religion Forum, a partner of the Medical and Health Humanities Program. The conversation flows toward taking the community as a baseline.

Our Program Director

Dr. Merel Visse

Director of Medical and Health Humanities
Associate Professor

Merel Visse’s work contemplates and advocates the humanities, the arts, and care.  It is embedded in the interdisciplinary fields of the health and medical humanities, care ethics and research and qualitative and artistic approaches to inquiry. She argues the arts are not only nice, but necessary to understand the human experience of care. Aesthetic experience seriously impacts our lives and understanding what care is and can be, and aesthetic literacy is as important as the ability to read and write. In her research, Merel examines how we can assist professionals and students to perceive better, to improve judgements, and with that, foster good care, sensible communities, and a just society.

Merel’s work builds bridges between the everyday lived experiences of people and the socio-political realm of public issues. She follows a dialectic approach to research that is both responsive and critical. On the one hand, this approach involves being receptive to the movements that occur in everyday situations of care, and on the other hand a critical analysis of ideological and theoretical concepts that inform the concept of care. Care research is not only seen as a deliberate act of analysis in order to produce knowledge, but also as an event that requires a praxis of unknowing by living one’s questions real time.

Merel works post-disciplinary and serves multiple roles: creating intersections between a diverse set of disciplines and affiliated communities such as health institutions, art schools and public health settings. At Drew, she works as the Director of Medical and Health Humanities at the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. She is also an Associate Professor at the Care Ethics group of the University of Humanistic Studies. She serves on the editorial board of Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics and Education, and together with colleagues, she facilitates the Art & Care Sessions.

She draws upon her prior experience with the coordination and execution of complex evaluation and qualitative inquiry projects, as well as the acquisition of grants. She is a published author of peer reviewed articles in impact-factor journals and several books . She is a regular speaker at conferences and facilitates labs and workshops.

For up-to-date news, her inspirations and background, please visit

Feel free to contact Merel at: