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Literature and Medicine Project

Briefly describe the activity and its purpose.

Nisonger's Literature and Medicine Project partners with the Ohio Humanities Council to provide a three-week series of seminars addressing cultural issues in disability and health care practice. Trainees complete assigned readings (both fiction and non-fiction) and written reflections which are shared and discussed in seminar.

The three seminars are every other week, usually in January or February. The every other week schedule allows time for readings, reflection, and assignments. We also wait to schedule this unit until Winter to allow trainees time to get to know each other. Food is provided (at the request of the facilitators) during these seminars to encourage an atmosphere conducive to sharing and discussing.  Two trained facilitators from the Ohio Humanities Council facilitate all of the sessions. They establish ground rules for sharing and facilitate discussion through guided questions on the readings. Faculty participate and often bridge readings with current practicum experiences. Trainees complete their Individualized Learning Plan with their faculty mentors at the end of the semester to both to guide their competency progress and to evaluate the unit.

Examples of readings used in past years are:  

  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Anne Fadiman
  • The Broken Cord - Michael Dorris                   
  • From Imagine What It's Like: A Literature and Medicine Anthology - Ruth Nadelhaft, ed. 
  • Three Generations of Native American Women's Birth Experience - Joy Harjo
  • In Kafka's House - Leonard Kriegel
  • Mystery and Awe - Rachel Naomi Remen
  • Homage to Issac Bashevis Singer - Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

Created by the Maine Humanities Council, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care® is a national award-winning, hospital-based, scholar-led humanities reading and discussion program for health care professionals that benefits both them and their patients. The program encourages participants to connect the worlds of science and lived experience, giving them the opportunity to reflect on their professional roles and relationships through plays, short stories, poetry, fiction and personal narratives in a setting where they can share their reflections with colleagues. It has a significant effect on the way participants understand their work, and their relationships with patients and with each other. (Maine Humanities Council. Literature and Medicine: Program Information. Retrieved from

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