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Arts and Humanities in Health Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

The arts and humanities can be good preparation for a health care career because a bachelor's degree in the arts and humanities usually gives you practical skills in communication, creative expression and analytical thinking, among other strengths. A background or interest in the arts and humanities also can make you more well-rounded and well-informed. In addition, there are many colleges and universities that now offer interdisciplinary programs such as majors, minors and certificates in the medical and health humanities that complement coursework in the bio- and social sciences. 

Some health professions schools find applicants with an arts or humanities degree have that special "human touch": they connect readily with others, have a strong sense of historical context and are aware of the ways in which human cultures can affect the whole health care experience. They also are more often multilingual. All of these are highly prized skills in an increasingly global world.

In addition to making you a strong applicant when applying to a health professions program, the arts and humanities may become even more important to you once you start practicing in your chosen field. For many health professionals, the arts are an invaluable creative outlet and reflective tool.

There is a growing and rich body of literature, music and fine arts by, for and about people in the health professions. An increasing number of health practitioners are turning to the creative arts as a way of expressing and coming to terms with the sometimes harrowing task of helping people who are ill and suffering.  

In addition, there are careers like art therapist that help people improve their well being. There are also health care-related professions directly related to arts and humanities, like medical illustratormedical historian or medical librarian.

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Note: Therese Jones, Ph.D., Director, Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program, University of Colorado, reviewed this overview.