Background: The purposes of medical humanities courses are to foster students' personal and professional development. Conventional approaches present some challenges. For instance, the rapid pace of topic survey courses hinders students from deeply engaging with learning materials. The pre-clinical years offer limited opportunities for interacting with role-models to facilitate students' personal and professional identities. A course on ”Female Role-Models in Health Care Professions” used narrative approaches to foster students' self understanding and professional affiliation. This paper: (1) introduces these innovative teaching methods; (2) reports on students' learning experiences; and (3) discusses the implications of these teaching experiences. Materials and Methods: The life narratives of female role-models were used as scenarios to foster students' reflection on careers and professionalism. Thiry-three students took the course in fall 2009. Students' learning experiences were assessed through students' questionnaires and qualitative analysis of students' reflection notes. Results: Based on twenty-nine students' course evaluation feedback (88% response rate), 93% of respondents cited altruism as professional competences they felt the course had enhanced, and 76% interpersonal relationships. Asked which teaching methods were effective, 88% respondents said visiting the life paths of female role-models, and 60% cited reflection notes as an effective assignment. The course plan was granted by the Ministry of Education's Excellent Humanities Course Award Committee in fall 2009. Conclusions: This curriculum offered narrative approaches to facilitate students' self-understanding and professional development. Student evaluations affirmed narrative approaches enhanced students' altruism and self-reflection in real-world contexts and provided a worthy model for medical humanities education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • medical humanities
  • narrative approaches
  • role-modeling
  • professionalism


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