Bachelor of ArtsHealth Humanities

a drawing of the anatomy of the human head a drawing of the anatomy of the human head

Explore health professions through the perspective of the humanities.

Health humanities is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that draws on arts, humanities, and social sciences in its approach to health, healthcare, and well-being. It allows students to examine and understand health and healthcare from a big picture perspective that encompasses more than clinical diagnosis and treatment.

Health humanities (also called “medical humanities”) includes sub-fields like bioethics, disability studies, aging studies, death & dying, health disparities, health equity, social justice in health, stories of illness, medical history, cultural perspectives on health, visual and performing art therapy, addiction, LGBTQIA health, compassion, burnout, and many other intersectional areas related to health, healthcare, and the human condition.

Why earn your degree at Bellarmine?

In keeping with our reputation for innovation, Bellarmine is the first school in Kentucky to offer an undergraduate degree in health humanities. It’s a forward-thinking program, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the humanities.

The program employs curriculum designed and taught faculty from many fields across the university, including bioethics, death and dying studies, narrative medicine, creative writing, nursing, health policy and law, and elder care administration.

Bellarmine has strong and solid connections to a variety of health-related organizations and potential employers, offering students great opportunities for experiential learning, community engagement, and job placement.

You can’t ignore the human element in healing. People get better when you care about them. —Dr. Allan Lansing

Program Highlights

This program is the only one in the country that offers your choice of three tracks: aging and end-of-life studies, health disparities and health equity, and narrative health and medical humanities. Students explore challenging and fascinating interdisciplinary topics in classes like “Death and Dying Through the Humanities,” “Creativity and Caregiving” and “Healthcare, Justice, the State, and Society.” 

The program also has two internships built into the curriculum, so students get a lot of real world experience. Each internship is also linked to an upper-level course, so students are encouraged to maximize their internship experience by connecting it to the coursework. 

Because of its emphasis on compassion, equity, and patient-centered care, Health Humanities is a field with strong ties to social justice. Social justice is a significant part of the university’s overall mission, and students in the program will learn how to advocate for change in their field.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from Bellarmine with a degree in Health Humanities will:

  • Communicate, orally and in writing, using advanced interpersonal skills such as empathy, patient-centered attitudes, individualized decision-making, and ability to relate to others;
  • Analyze and articulate, orally and in writing, the ways in which illness and disease shape identity, relationship building, purpose, and accountability for caregivers, health care professionals, patients, families, and communities;
  • Understand foundational interdisciplinary theory in health humanities and narrative medicine;
  • Understand factors that contribute to, and complicate, the roles of health care professionals, caregivers, and patients (such as economic, technological, cultural, ethical, spiritual, institutional, legal, or political);
  • Engage in innovative problem solving of health care challenges, which promotes health prevention, health stewardship, and understanding of the connectedness between mind, body, and spirit;
  • Advocate for patient-centered care;
  • Collaborate between disciplines within health care; between health care disciplines and other disciplines; and between caregivers, health care providers, patients, families, and communities; 
  • Apply globally informed perspectives to analyze factors that create health disparities with regard to race, ethnicity, class, gender, and age; and
  • Reflect critically on the ways in which concepts of health, illness, disability, aging, and mortality are socially and historically constructed.

Internships

Experienced leaders of highly regarded organizations in the fields of health care, senior living, public health and aging services serve as mentors during internships designed to familiarize students with such operations. Every students can expect to gain first-hand, relevant career experience by completing a departmental rotation in a care center, participating in internal and external meetings, or performing approved projects for the host organization.

Career Opportunities

One of the most prominent demographic shifts anticipated across the United States – and throughout the industrialized world – over the next 10-15 years is an unprecedented growth in the number of older adults, both in pure number and percentage of the population. Organizations providing long-term care, senior living services, aging care and services, and public health services that address this demographic shift are expected to grow exponentially, as are companies that supply goods and services to those providers and public service agencies that regulate them.

The professions within aging care, senior living services, and public health require well-prepared leaders who can effectively plan, organize, and direct organizations to achieve strategic goals and advance their respective missions. With one of these health care degrees, students can pursue a wide variety of careers:

  • Administrator or Executive Director: Long-Term Care, Post-Acute Care, Home- and Community-Based Services, Seniors Housing 
  • Organizational Leadership: Finance, Human Resources, Marketing and Public Relations, Environmental and Risk Management, Health Informatics
  • Public Sector: Epidemiologist, Biostatistician, Community Health Administrator, Public Policy Advocate, Government Regulatory Agency Staff
  • Sales: Vendors of Pharmaceuticals, Goods, and Services to Healthcare Providers
  • Private Sector: End-of-Life Doula, Health Science Writer, Health Equity Advocate, Public Health Advocate

Career Development Center

Faculty

Kevin Hansen, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., Department Chair (email)
Jessica Hume, Ph.D., MFA (email)
Amy Tudor, Ph.D., MFA (email)
Anne Veno, DNP, MBA, RN (email)
Harry Dadds, J.D., LL.M. (email)
Jennifer Thomas, MBA, CPA, CHFP (email)
Chris Ekstrom, Department Assistant

Accreditation

The Department of Health Care Administration and Public Health at Bellarmine University is one of only 15 programs in the nation accredited by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). NAB granted accreditation in 2021 for the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration degree. Students with this degree are eligible to sit for the national nursing home administrator and assisted living licensure exams, and are eligible for licensure in the majority of states following graduation.

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Contact Information

Kevin Hansen, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M.
Department Chair
Phone: 502.272.8281
Email: khansen@bellarmine.edu