Medical humanities make degree worldly

Omar Gamboa

To help pre-med, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy students make themselves more attractive to professional schools, the Senate of College Councils has proposed a certification in the humanities, said Senate communcations director Michael Morton.

Support for a medical humanities certificate program was signed by the Senate at its Nov. 10 general assembly in an effort to increase the rate of pre-med students being accepted to medical professional schools. UT already offers many of the courses that would be required for the certificate, including Sociology of Health and Illness, Philosophy of Mind and Body and Global Health.

“There will not be an increase in tuition because they are based off of courses already taught,” Morton said. “It is essentially drawing from different courses from UT and designed to fit students’ needs.”

Morton said the new program wouldn’t affect teachers, but might instead fill up empty seats. Baylor University, the University of Missouri and the University of South Carolina currently offer humanities certificates for pre-med students.

According to the Senate’s numbers, 58 percent of the 658 UT graduates who applied to medical school in 2009 were accepted and 47.8 percent of the 119 who applied to dental school were accepted. Morton said the Senate hopes the new program will help UT get closer to Baylor’s rate of acceptance, which is typically between 60 and 65 percent of about 130 students for medical school and 70 percent of about 20 students for dental school.

“Baylor has a much higher rate going into medical school, so we’re hoping [the rate at] UT will also increase,” Morton said. “Anyone entering the health profession should practice the humanities, dealing with people and communicating.”

Cell and molecular biology graduate student Kacie Gardella said she would have liked to have taken more than the two courses in the humanities she remembers taking as an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University.

“They were okay, but you’d just want to get them out of the way,” Gardella said. “Its good to not stick to only biology. Medical schools want to see the character.”

Biology professor Michael Singer said he went through college on the extreme opposite of what the Senate’s program proposes. Having attended Oxford, he said the English education system only allowed him to
study zoology.

“I certainly would have liked to have learned humanities,” Singer said. “I was educated at Oxford and it was too narrow.”

Co-chair of the Senate’s curriculum committee, Josh Fjelstul, said meetings with administrators and deans of colleges could result in the implementation of the plan.

“We hope to see this certificate program implemented as soon as possible,” Fjelstul said. “We hope that this certificate program will help UT students interested in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and social work to differentiate themselves as they apply to professional schools and [look] for jobs.”