SD Humanities Grant Project Laying Groundwork for Medical Humanities in South Dakota | Community


BROOKINGS – Could the seemingly disparate medical and human sciences studies be combined to create a holistic approach to human well-being?

This is exactly what an academic and medical professor from South Dakota sets out to do.

“Shaping Medical Humanities in South Dakota,” a recently completed project funded by a $ 10,000 grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council, is what project director Peter Hoesing calls a “conceptual launching pad for the emerging humanities agenda. Doctors from the University of South Dakota ”.

The medical humanities are a “multidisciplinary and interprofessional field of inquiry driven by the idea that health professionals treat humans, not mere bodies,” according to Hoesing, a member of the ethics and humanities faculty of the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota. .

“Shaping Medical Humanities in South Dakota” is a collaboration between Hoesing, also an SDHC scholar, and Ellen L. Schellinger, director of the DeGroot Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and the Healing Arts at the Sanford School of Medicine. While focusing on the humanities and social sciences, Ari Albright and Rebecca Froelich of Creative Care, LLC contributed to the artistic component of the project’s data collection. The goal of the grant was to create a needs assessment and asset map to shape the future of medical humanities in South Dakota.

“To the best of our knowledge, ‘Shaping Medical Humanities in South Dakota’ will offer the first comprehensive and systematic assessment of medical humanities resources and needs in the entire state of South Dakota,” said Hoesing.

SHU’s emerging medical humanities programming aligns the mission of SDHC and other humanities organizations – the exploration of the human condition – with the exploration of modern medicine and healing.

“The medical humanities strengthen interpersonal skills, develop emotional intelligence and resilience of practitioners, promote community engagement and provide insight into the practice of medicine in modern healthcare,” said Hoesing and Schellinger.

Upon completion of the project, the Sanford School of Medicine now has a unified planning resource to guide the development of medical humanities programs in South Dakota.

Hoesing believes in creating a stronger future for the humanities and the sciences – often seen as opposing fields of study – through this approach.

“We can’t connect and collaborate with each other until we have basic knowledge of each other; on the contrary, with some mutual understanding and interdisciplinary listening, we can create new possibilities for collaboration, ”said Hoesing.

Hoesing and Schellinger drew on their background in humanistic social sciences, integrative medicine, and the arts to create a roster of inclusive experts, including the following:

• health and health education administrators;

• the arts among health professionals;

• creative and expressive art therapists who use a variety of methods in their work;

• practitioners of integrative and traditional medicine whose work crosses artistic disciplines.


Connection is the first step in moving healthcare towards a holistic approach to well-being of mind and body. That’s what the card is for.

“When it comes to human resources, South Dakota has untold riches, but it remains somewhat disparate and disconnected in a geography that can often make a lasting connection difficult,” Hoesing said.

By exploring the healing power of music therapy, art therapy, and integrative medicine – and connecting practitioners of these humanities-related practices with practitioners of medicine – Hoesing hopes to advance towards better outcomes for the humanities. health. Plans are underway to do just that.

“Now that the Sanford School of Medicine has a better view of the rich asset pool and some of the existing and emerging needs for medical humanists statewide, one of the most important next steps we can take is to integrate this visibility into a more holistic plan. action that will propel medical humanities forward over the next three to five years and beyond, ”Hoesing said.

This plan, informed by patients, doctors and medical students who live and work in South Dakota, will include three main areas:

• study program and scholarship / research at the Sanford School of Medicine;

• community involvement;

• efforts to improve the well-being and resilience of physicians / health care providers.

Hoesing is excited to develop “an emerging track within the Sanford School of Medicine that promotes active scholarship and curriculum innovation”.

Want to know more about the South Dakota Humanities Council and its grant opportunities? Visit


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