In the Humanities Pathway we will read, observe, listen, create, critique, and be curious together while focusing on the human condition as it relates to health, disease, illness, human embodiment—and what it means to be a doctor and a patient, especially in relationship to one another.

Is the Humanities Pathway the right fit for you?

Students join the Humanities Pathway for a variety of reasons. Some students previously studied in humanities, social science, or fine arts areas and see the Pathway as a way to stay connected with their pre-medical-school selves and to continue developing their interests. Others are drawn to the Pathway for the intimate community it provides and the chance to forge meaningful relationships with a small group of intriguing and diverse peers. Still others appreciate the structured opportunities to enjoy arts-related events and the support and mentorship to develop projects of their own.

Humanities training among medical students has been shown to correlate with positive qualities like empathy, tolerance for ambiguity, wisdom, and emotional appraisal, and to inversely correlate with some of the components of burnout.[1,2] Students participating in the pathway report that it fosters joy, hope, passion, creativity, and respect for others’ perspectives; they see it as an outlet, a place to reorient and seek wellness, and a way to nourish their desire to help others and to value physician-patient relationships.

[1] Graham J, Benson LM, Swanson J, Potyk D, Daratha K, Roberts K. Medical Humanities Coursework Is Associated with Greater Measured Empathy in Medical Students. Am J Med. 2016; 129 (12):1334‐1337. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.08.005

[2] Mangione S, Chakraborti C, Staltari G, et al. Medical Students' Exposure to the Humanities Correlates with Positive Personal Qualities and Reduced Burnout: A Multi-Institutional U.S. Survey. J Gen Intern Med. 2018; 33 (5):628‐634. doi:10.1007/s11606-017-4275-8

Pathway FAQs

A Pathway is a supplemental program that provides enriching experiences for students with interests beyond the core medical school curriculum. Students that complete the pathway receive a certificate as well as designation on the CWRU SOM transcript and the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE).

First-year medical students (both University and College Program) who are not currently enrolled in a dual-degree program or another Pathway may submit their application in August of each year.

Please see our Apply to the Humanities Pathway page for further information. Students should submit their application, including a CV and personal statement, via Google Form by the required date in August.

Humanities Pathway Mission, Vision, and Goals


To promote the development of students into humanistic, patient-centered, resilient, and contextually aware health care professionals by drawing upon the lessons and tools of the humanities.


To use arts and humanities-based courses and experiences to promote the development of health care professionals who will explore the fundamental questions of what it is to be human and to be a healthcare professional. Students will think critically about the complex interplay among patients, health care professionals and culture. They will develop innovative and informed approaches to health, well-being, and quality of life for the patients and communities they serve, while developing resilience and passion to improve the culture of medicine. 


  • To develop creative and collaborative approaches for health care professionals from all disciplines that will employ the humanities as a lens through which to envision patient-centered care and ethical behavior.
  • To engage with our local and regional communities to enhance social justice and eliminate health disparities.
  • To inform professional identity development by emphasizing self-awareness, resiliency, self-care, and altruism as important elements of professionalism.
  • To integrate students, trainees, and faculty as collaborators in developing team-based inter-professional health care.
  • To utilize narrative as a method for understand the “self” and the “other” by developing skills in close reading, close listening, and empathy.
  • To develop a “tool box” of resources and approaches to health care to enhance the experience for all involved.
  • To develop and disseminate enduring materials for others to use and appreciate the ways in which the humanities can enhance the experience of caring for and about the patients we serve.

Pathway Contacts

Faculty Lead

Erin Gentry Lamb, Ph.D
Email: egl36@case.edu
Phone: 216.368.6788