Elective Years 1 and 2: The Healer's Art

Department: Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine (AHHM), Undergraduate Medical Education
Title: The Healer's Art: Remembering the Heart of  Medicine
Location: University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry - ONLINE via Zoom

13-hour elective, held ONLINE via Zoom.  FIVE weekly 2.5-hour sessions (6:00 - 8:30 pm).

TWO elective offerings:

  • Fall 2021: Nov 16, 23, 30; Dec 7, 14 
  • WINTER 2022: Jan 31, Feb 7, 14, 28; Mar 7

Optional 1-hour information session on Nov 2, 2021 at 12 noon.  To view the PPT from the orientation session that was held on Nov 2, 2021, click here


Sign up for this elective via this Google Form

To request additional information, contact Lisa Bussiere, MD Program/AHHM Administrator by email (ahhm@ualberta.ca), or phone (780-492-0445). 


The Healer's Art course, developed in 1991 by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD focuses on the human side of medicine. In each session, themes such as sustaining idealism and altruism, medicine as a calling, cultivating compassion, healing loss, and preventing stress and burnout are explored (see http://www.rachelremen.com/learn/medical-education-work/the-healers-art).

Orientation session: "The Healer's Art: Sustaining our Humanity in Medicine" - with Drs. Hsing Jou and Pamela Brett-MacLean - OPEN to ALL 1st and 2nd year students - Nov 2, 2021, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm,  (see MedSIS calendar for additional information) to view the PPT, click here.

FIVE sessions
1) "Discovering and Nurturing Your Wholeness"
2) "Sharing Grief and Honouring Loss" (Part 1)
3) "Sharing Grief and Honouring Loss" (Part 2) - small group session
4) "Allowing Awe in Medicine"
5) "Care of the Soul: Service as a Way of Life"

There are NO required readings or assignments for this course! The Healer's Art uses a "discovery" model that encourages honest, mutually respectful sharing of experience, beliefs, values, and personal truths. Small group reflection, experiential exercises, and personal reflection comprise 90% of this elective course.

Groups are facilitated by practicing physicians, who participate as fellow human beings and co-learners. With the exception of Session 3, each session includes both large and small group components. A commitment to attend ALL five sessions is mandatory - in addition, students MUST attend the FIRST session. 

A pass/ fail grade will be assigned (as per the standard "Assessment of Elective Performance" form), based on attending, and actively engaging in all five sessions. 

Students will be asked to complete a feedback form to help The Healer's Art course directors ensure the quality of this elective offering over time.

Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis.  Small groups are capped at 5 students; max. capacity is dependent on the the number of preceptors available to facilitate the groups.

  1. To support 1st and 2nd year medical students in recognizing, valuing, enhancing and preserving human dimensions of health care;
  2. To enable students and faculty to e experience nonjudgmental, noncompetitive, collegial relationships providing a unique professional community that encourages and supports personal and professional growth;
  3. To experience the core values of the Hippocratic Oath (compassion, service, respect, etc.) as a way of life;
  4. To recognize the need for self-care in order to provide good patient care and avoid burnout;
  5. To recognize the presence of, and develop greater comfort in discussing mystery, awe, death, and other losses, with colleagues and peers.

Students ae strongly encouraged to attend ALL five sessions, and MUST 
ATTEND a minimum of four (n=4) sessions.  If a student misses a session, a makeup assignment will need to be completed.

Please arrive on time for all sessions.  Participants are encouraged to eat a light meal before each session.

Co-directors, Hsing Jou, MD, FRCPC and Pamela Brett-MacLean, PhD have completed "The Healer's Art" faculty development training course. We welcome two Med 2025 student advisor volunteers to assist us with the two offerings of this elective in 2021-2022 (please contact Lisa Bussiere, MD Program/AHHM Administrator, at ahhm@ualberta.ca).

All participants will receive Dr. Remen's "The Little Book of Kitchen Table Wisdom" as a gift to provide you with inspiration, and support your continuing commitment to practicing medicine as a healing art over the course of your career.

This is ONE of TWO Gateway Electives for the M/HH Community of Learning. 13 hours will be credited toward M/HH CoL activity hours; hours also count toward MD Program elective hours.  Students do not need to be part of the M/HH CoL to participate in this elective.

The Healer's Art elective is offered in medical schools across the United States, Canada, and countries around the world.  Medical students have shared the following about their experience of this elective: "The Healer's Art helped me to remember why I came into medical school in the first place...healing, compassion, listening: these things are hardly taught in medical school, or even seen" - University of Washington medical student; "The class has helped me to foster my humanity instead of being embarrassed by it" - Stanford University medical student.

For more information about the course, go to http://www.rishiprograms.org/healers-art. To access a listing of peer-reviewed articles about the Healer's Art elective course go to: http://www.rishiprograms.org/publications.

Medical students can complete more than one 12-hour elective in Year 1 and 2.

Last Updated: November 15, 2021