Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics: a voice for compassion in medicine for 10 years


From its founding 10 years ago, the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics has prepared tomorrow’s healers to act with compassion and justice. The center celebrates its anniversary with a series of events Oct. 10-12. These include presentations by best-selling authors, a performance by a psychiatrist-concert pianist and a community-wide discussion on health disparities in Bexar County.

“An enduring goal of our center is to preserve our students’ innate idealism and ensure their rigorous training does not suppress it,” said Ruth Berggren, M.D., center director and professor in the Long School of Medicine. “The great majority of time in medical school is allocated to teach scientific knowledge and skills with little formal time for medical humanities, including ethics that emphasize medicine as an art as much as a science.”


Center Director Dr. Ruth Berggren is pictured (right) volunteering to care for patients after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

The center imparts vital lessons to students of medicine, nursing and other health professions through course work and real-world experience in four key areas: professionalism and ethics; community service learning; global health; and literature and art.

“We must cultivate qualities that produce graduates with a deep sense of caring and strong communication skills,” Dr. Berggren said. “Through our ethics courses and electives, our focus on experiential learning and community service, and the inspiring speakers and writers who come to our campus, we hope to nurture the empathic and committed health care professionals that you would want for yourself or your family in a time of illness.”

Through the center, students engage in global health education in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa after preparing with experienced mentors and elective courses.

Closer to home, students participate in a thriving community service learning program, working in medically underserved communities in San Antonio and South Texas. The innovative ways they serve the community have earned the Health Science Center federal recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for three consecutive years.

By giving students the chance to experience ethics in action, the center answers the challenges facing health care today.

To donate to the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, contact Sonia Vasquez at 210-567-0028 or at, or visit

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