Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care: A Hospital-Based Reading and Discussion Program Developed by the Maine Humanities Council

Bonebakker, Victoria JD

Special Theme Article: United States

Created by the Maine Humanities Council in 1997, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care is a hospital-based humanities reading and discussion program for practicing health care professionals. To date, a total of 25 (65%) of Maine’s hospitals have implemented the six-month program at least once, reaching over 900 participants. At the monthly meetings, participants discuss assigned readings--works of fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction that illuminate issues central to caring for people. Scholars selected to facilitate the discussion foster nonhierarchical, wide-ranging discussions of the texts. Participants connect the world of science with the world of lived experience and engage with humanistic perspectives and insights that help them do their work better. Literature & Medicine is unique in promoting statewide programs that involve a heterogeneous mix of veteran health care professionals. The program has been or will be implemented in seven other states, and organizers are exploring further expansion of the program through a national institute.

Ms. Bonebakker is associate director, Maine Humanities Council, and project director, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care™, Portland, Maine.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Ms. Bonebakker, Maine Humanities Council, 674 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME 04102; telephone: (207) 773-5051; fax: (207) 773-2416; e-mail: 〈vbonebak@mainehumanities.org〉.

© 2003 Association of American Medical Colleges