Humanities and Healthcare

Since 2012, Alabama Humanities Alliance has partnered with hospitals, veterans centers, and community organizations in Alabama to offer the Humanities and Healthcare program.

Literature and Healthcare

This reading and discussion program benefits medical personnel, community leaders, scholars, social workers and their patients. Humanities-based programs for health care workers have proven to have a significant effect on the way participants understand their work, as well as their relationships with patients and each other. The ultimate beneficiaries of the program are the individuals who participate; health care workers gain enhanced understanding and empathy for their patients.

 

The program encourages participants to connect the worlds of health care and life experiences, giving them the opportunity to reflect on their professional roles and their relationships with colleagues and care recipients through short stories, poetry, fiction and personal narratives in a small-group setting where they can share their reflections and experiences with others.

 

The field of medical humanities is growing nationally because health care professionals can no longer rely solely on what they know from their own lives to understand their patients, who may be of different religious, socio-economic or cultural backgrounds. Literature, however, offers vicarious experiences of worlds outside that of the reader, supplying full-bodied accounts of illness, death and human relationships in all places and among all peoples. 

 

This program is based on the Maine Humanities Council’s national award-winning, scholar-led humanities program for health care professionals, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare, which reaches hundreds of providers, staff members, administrators and policy makers in facilities across the country, affecting the care of thousands. 

For more information about Literature and Healthcare, contact Melanie Bouyer at (205) 558-3999 or mbouyer@alabamahumanities.org.

 

Literature and the Veteran Experience

Literature and the Veteran Experience is a humanities-based reading and discussion program for veterans and by veterans that provides a veteran-centered setting and context for participants to connect with one another, build relationships and share their experiences. The program creates an opportunity for veterans to give voice to and reflect upon issues of particular interest or concern and engage with materials that help them make connections between their own experiences with the experiences of others across time and cultures.

 

Alan Brown, Ph.D., a program facilitator, notes, “While stress is a fact of life for doctors and nurses in all hospitals, medical personnel in VA centers face even more challenges. VA facilities are often underfunded and understaffed. They are also seeing a marked increase in patients, resulting from aging baby-boomers and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. Also, the patient population is increasingly diverse, in terms of ethnicity, age, education level and religious background. The physical strain of trying to meet the needs of these patients is compounded by an extremely large number of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, and the fact that so many veterans never seem to get well, especially those suffering from chronic pain and substance abuse. Frustration and despair are facts of life for injured veterans and those caring for them.”

 

This program is based on the Maine Humanities Council’s national award-winning, scholar-led humanities program for health care professionals, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare, which reaches hundreds of providers, staff members, administrators and policy makers in facilities across the country, affecting the care of thousands.

For more information about Literature and the Veteran Experience, contact Melanie Bouyer at (205) 558-3999 or mbouyer@alabamahumanities.org.

For more information about Literature and Healthcare, contact Laura Anderson at 205.558.3992 or landerson@alabamahumanities.org.