We began The
Healer’s Art course here at the Duluth campus of The University of
MN Medical School in 2003. It has run for twenty successful years, and
will be offered again for second year medical students in the fall of
2023-24. The course is directed by Dr. Jennifer Pearson, Associate
Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health
in Duluth. Some of the logistics of our adaptation of The Healer’s
Art are as follows:
- We offer this course to
second year medical students only. Since its inception, our
participation has averaged about 60% of the second year class
each year that has elected to take the course.
- The course runs as a fifteen hour,
one elective credit through the Department of Family Medicine and
Biobehavioral Health. It is taught in five sessions, approximately three
hours per session.
- It begins in
the fall, and ends in November prior to winter break.
- Exact dates for this upcoming school year are not yet
determined as Dr. Pearson sets the specific dates after the entire
fall/winter calendar is completed, so as to avoid conflicts with exam
- Historically, we’ve run
the course in the evenings from 6:30-9:30 p.m., most of the sessions on
Wednesday nights with occasional variability in effort to avoid upcoming
- The course has been held at The
Duluth Women’s Club in non-covid years, with intention to hold it there
again for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. This is a beautiful large
old mansion on the east hillside, not far from campus. We are able to
meet in the living room area as a large group, and then break off into
various rooms of the home for our small group discussions.
- Typically a 5:1, student to faculty ratio has
been maintained. The faculty that are involved with The Healer’s
Art have been a mix of medical school faculty as well as community
faculty. All are clinical physicians, and come from a range of
specialties including Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Orthopedics,
Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Hematology/Oncology, Palliative Care Medicine,
and Radiology. The faculty involved are physicians who bring honesty,
sensitivity, respect, and natural compassion to their work. They
participate as equals in the small group discussions and exercises,
offering perspectives as individuals on the same professional path as
the students, just further down that path.
Our sessions are titled as follows:
- Bringing our Whole Self to Life
- The Rollercoaster of Life: Living the Peaks and
- (Small group session only in
continuation of the above topic)
- Mystery and
- Service as a Way of Life
- Most of our
sessions (with the exception of the third, which is a small group only
session), have a large group portion and a small group portion. Small
groups are randomly selected at the first session, and continue with the
same members throughout the course.
- The large group portion of the sessions tends to be
thoughts shared by Dr. Pearson and/or other faculty, stories, and group
exercises. The small group portion of the sessions is interactive
dialogue amongst all small group members. In these groups, students
often come to know one another at a new depth in exploring their
personal insights and stories.
course, as articulated by Dr. Remen, is based on a “discovery
model” in which there are no experts, no right answers, and it is
acceptable to “not know.” The wisdom of the collective life
experiences is recognized, with curiosity and exploration encouraged as
a part of the dialogue. There is also encouragement for the respect of
others, self-exploration and self-trust, and personal connection with
the fundamental principles of healing.
- Evaluations are requested after the final session is
completed. Nationally standardized forms from Dr. Remen and ISHI have
been used in effort to allow the outcomes to be looked at collectively
throughout all the medical schools offering this course. Evaluation
overviews from past years of our course in Duluth have been included for
- We plan to run the course in-person for the fall of 2023, but know that we must follow university guidelines if anything were again to affect our ability to teach in-person.