Elective Years 1 and 2: History of Medicine: Across Worlds and Time

Department: Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine (AHHM) Program, Undergraduate Medical Education (UME)
Title: History of Medicine: Across Worlds and TIme
Location: Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry - via Zoom

Variable, up to 12 hours (minimum: 4 hours), from Jan-Apr, 2021


Interested in learning more? Sign up to attend an information session on Wed, Jan 13, 2021 from 2:00-3:00 pm, via Zoom - click here; or contact Jamil Kassam, Med 2024 (jakassam@ualberta.ca) to request additional information about this elective. To access the most up-to-date information about upcoming sessions, and other resources, click here.

If you are interested in enrolling in this elective - click here.

If you have questions about the calculation of elective hours associated with this flexible elective, contact Lisa Bussiere, MD Program/ AHHM Administrator (ahhm@ualberta.ca) to arrange an appointment with Dr. Pamela Brett-MacLean.


This flexible elective offers students an opportunity to explore various topics related to the history of medicine, spanning both time - from ancient Greece to the 20th century, and place - including, but not limited to, Europe, the Islamic world, South Asia, and the Far East.

With the support of historian of medicine Dr. Frank Stahnisch (U of Calgary), students can virtually attend upcoming presentations organized by the Calgary History of Medicine Society (CHoMS), and/ or attend various panels and keynote addresses during the History of Medicine Days (HMD) taking place from Mar 18-20, 2021, as well as sessions relevant to the history organized by the AHHM program – all via Zoom (*see dates, tentative schedule below). Students can also propose experiencing an online presentation, film, etc., relevant to the history of medicine, focused on a particular issue or area they are particularly interested in learning about.

Tentative Schedule

Mon, Jan 18, 2021 | Virtual Social 5 PM - Speaker 6 PM - Q & A 7 PM
Drs. Frank W. Stahnisch and Erna Kurbegovic (Uof Calgary), Psychiatry and the Legacies of Eugenics | CHoMS Presentation
Number of hours: 1 - 1.5 hrs
Poster,  to register, click here

Mon, Feb 15, 2021 (Time: PM - TBC)

Speaker/ Topic - TBC | CHoMS Presentation

Number of hours: 1

Mon, Mar 8, 2021

Dr. Jamil Kassam (MD Program), Medieval Islamicate Medicine: Avicenna and his canon of medicine (Tentative) | AHHM Presentation

Number of hours: 1

Thu, Mar 18- Sat, Mar 20, 2021

“History of Medicine Days 2021” Virtual Conference

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Hudson (Northern Ontario School of Medicine), Defining and Treating the Suffering Elderly: War and the origins of geriatric medicine in late 18th and early 19th century Britain
  • Dr. Larry Zeidman (Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine), Brain Science Under the Swastika: Ethical violations, resistance, and victimization of neuroscientists in Nazi Europe

Other speakers: TBC, programme is currently being finalized 

Number of hours: Up to 8 hours

March, 2021 (Date/Time: TBC)

“AHHM Speaker Series” Presentation

Dr. Kelly MacFarlane (History & Classics), The Language of Medicine: Classical influences on scientific terminology - TBC

Number of hours: 1

April, 2021 (Date/ Time: TBC)

Drs. Pamela Brett-MacLean & Jamil Kassam, AHHM & History of Medicine: Debriefing session

Number of hours: 1

NB: Other sessions are in the process of being identified/ developed. Again, to access the most up-to-date information about upcoming sessions, and other resources, click here. Also, you can enroll within two days of having attended a presentation - to enroll, click here.

To obtain elective hour credits, students must not only attend presentations (and maintain a record of their attendance) but also need to complete an accompanying mini-assignment (~30 min), submitted via Google Form to the History of Medicine Elective co-coordinators (information will be provided once you have enrolled in the elective). The purpose of the mini-assignments is to reinforce key ideas and concepts presented and discussed during the session(s) you attend. For each 1-hour session attended, 1.5 hours will accumulate toward your elective hours, with the exception of participation in History of Medicine Days, which will count only as the total number of hours attended, plus 0.5 hours for an integrative reflective assignment.

Students will be invited to complete a feedback form to help ensure the quality of this elective experience for students in subsequent years.

  1. To promote discussion of themes, topics, and issues critically addressed by historians of medicine,
  2. To appreciate the contribution of historical figures and discoveries to the evolution and status of modern medicine,
  3. To consider ways in which the body, health, disease, illness, and the healer have been conceptualized in different historical and cultural contexts.
Additional Notes:


The FOUR (n=4) hour minimum requirement for this elective can be fulfilled by attending 2 1-hour presentations (n= 2 hrs), completing two mini-assignments (n= 30 mins x 2 = 1 hr), and attending the debrief session in April (n=1 hr).

This elective, along with other AHHM electives, exists to support medical students in broadening their intellectual and clinical/ practice-based horizons, in particular with respect to the intersections that exist between the arts and humanities in relation to medicine.

Medical students are allowed to complete more than one 12-hour elective in Years 1 and 2.

Maximum 25 students.

Suggested Resource: Conrad, et al. (1995). The Western Medical Tradition: 800 BC to AD 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Last Updated: January 12, 2021