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Key Areas of Focus


Medical Students

The Center for Humanism supports The Selectives in the Medical Humanities, a comprehensive teaching program consisting of courses designed to provide CMSRU students with opportunities to strengthen their problem-solving skills, express creativity, reflect, and consider various perspectives. These courses support students by providing exposure to arts that complement biomedical sciences, promoting the students’ development into creative, empathic, and intellectually adaptable physicians.

The Center for Humanism also supports:

  • Clinical skill development in the Foundations of Medical Practice course, including higher-order communication skills, medical ethics, and narrative reflection on early experiences in medicine.
  • Electives for clinical medical students to reflect on their professional development, including The Healer’s Art and Becoming a Doctor, Staying Human.

Graduate Medical Education

For residents and fellows, the Center leads customized interprofessional workshops that focus on fostering an optimal learning environment, giving and receiving feedback, conflict resolution, relationships with consultants, conversations about serious illness, running a family meeting, navigating grief and mistrust, and managing expectations. 

Faculty and Continuing Education

For faculty physicians, the Center for Humanism supports a compassionate clinical environment by leading a course on Teaching with Empathy And Championing Humanism, or TEACH. This course addresses appreciative inquiry, empathy, working in teams/collaborating across conflict, responding to errors, finding joy in work, and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in academic medicine. 

The Center also sponsors “Commensality” groups for physicians. This format, pioneered by the Mayo Clinic, involves blocking out time for small groups of physicians to meet periodically to share meals and reflect on their life in medicine. Questions address realms such as “Your Profession,” “Professional Growth,” “Managing Day to Day,” “ Work-Life Integration,” “Relationships,” and “Self-Care.”


Directed by Britt Dahlberg, PhD with research psychologist Jeffrey Greeson, PhD, members of the Center for Humanism conduct research in a variety of realms, including:

  • Studying the medical school learning environment
  • Studying factors that contribute to a positive clinical work environment
  • Building communication and trust in interprofessional teams 
  • Outcomes of interventions such as the Commensality Program and others
  • Compassionomics
  • Physiological correlates of mindfulness
  • Impact of mindfulness on medical conditions

Medical Ethics and Law

The Center of Humanism faculty take a leadership role in addressing issues of medical ethics and law in medical education and clinical practice. 

  • In the Active Learning Groups in Phase I of medical school, the Center ensures that case scenarios routinely include ethical and legal issues in addition to biomedical components.  
  • In clinical medicine, members of the Center take leadership roles in the Inpatient Bioethics Committee and in a novel Outpatient Bioethics Committee.


The Center for Humanism places great value in fostering a spirit of camaraderie and cultivating a supportive learning and work environment. As a result, The Center for Humanism creates opportunities for medical students, residents, fellows and faculty members to connect with one another. 

The Center fosters these connections through: