Integration of arts and humanities in medicine to develop well-rounded physicians: the roles of health sciences librarians


  • Misa Mi Interim Director, Medical Library; Professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies; Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Medical Library, Rochester, MI
  • Lin Wu Assistant Director/Associate Professor, Research & Learning Services, Health Sciences Library, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
  • Yingting Zhang Research Services Librarian, RWJ Library of the Health Sciences; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Wendy Wu Librarian IV, Shiffman Medical Library, Wayne State University; Detroit, MI



arts, humanities, health sciences library, undergraduate medical education, medical education, health sciences librarians


Over the past ten years, there has been a growing interest in integrating arts and humanities in medicine to increase learners’ empathy and resilience; improve personal well-being, communication, and observational skills; enhance self-reflection; and promote professionalism. These desired skills and qualities are becoming increasingly important for the physicians of tomorrow. Parallel to curricular interventions of integrating arts and humanities to medical education, there has been ​an increasing research interest in investigating the impact of such interventions on medical students with respect to improving and sustaining students’ empathy as they progress in their medical education and develop their professional identity. Research has yielded interesting findings on the types and effect of the interventions in the medical curriculum. The Association of the American Medical Colleges (AAMC), recognizing the unique and unrealized role of arts and humanities in preparing and equipping physicians for twenty-first-century challenges, proposed seven recommendations for advancing arts and humanities integration into medical education to improve the education, practice, and well-being of physicians and physician learners across the spectrum of medical education. Institutional initiatives of arts and humanities integration in the medical curriculum in response to the AAMC’s recommendations afford health sciences librarians expansive opportunities and a new landscape of playing an important role in these initiatives. With their diverse educational background in arts, humanities, social sciences, and many other disciplines and fields, health sciences librarians are poised for meaningful contributions to their institutional goals in developing a humanistic, compassionate workforce of future physicians.


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