Dr. Vince Gil has been invited to be a collaborator in a novel program initiative at the University of California, Irvine. The Provost’s Office at UCI has begun a “Medical Humanities Initiative” along with significant funding to bring together the arts, humanities, and schools of medicine to further research, develop curriculum, and projects that will enable culturally sensitive and appropriate healthcare.
Dr. Gil is the only off-campus member among a select group of UCI faculty/department chairs that have either volunteered or been recruited to serve on the Medical Humanities Research Workgroup, charged with generating novel research possibilities, curricular, and other venues that further the Medical Humanities. Dr. Gil recently created an instrument to poll UCI faculty and students regarding their involvements with Medical Humanities projects — a first step among many more to come to ascertain, encourage, and then develop Medical Humanities as a bona fide field at UCI. Dr. Gil states,
“We are also working on developing a workshop for funding opportunities involving Medical Humanities projects, suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students. Our Workgroup will be assessing worthy undergraduate projects for funding through the University’s summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. As well, the Medical Humanities Initiative is providing seed money for research grants for faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary research.”
As such, Medical Humanities at UCI will become an interdisciplinary field with application to medical education and practice. The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, beliefs, and offer a cultural-historical perspective on medical practice. Attention to literature and the arts helps develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection — essential skills for humane medical care. Medical Humanities provide the interdisciplinary approach necessary to investigating and understanding the profound effects of illness and disease on patients, health professionals, and the social worlds in which these live and work.
Dr. Gil is excited to be a part of a growing interdisciplinary field, as well as collaborating with colleagues “across the aisle” at UCI. Moreover, the involvement is providing models for interdisciplinary venues which can eventually benefit Vanguard’s own programs. “We can find instructional models and opportunities for mutual engagement here as well.” Dr. Gil counts it a privilege to be the only Medical Anthropologist on board on this venue.