Medical Humanities ‑ HEALS

Humanizing medicine

From the visual and performing arts to the history of medicine, we believe in the value of having learners across the medical curriculum engage in the humanities. Whether you are just beginning your journey as a medical student, honing your skills in residency, or continuing your path with lifelong learning there is something for everyone.

 Integrating medical humanities will:

  • stimulate your creativity
  • sustain your energy
  • support the compassion required to provide excellence in care
  • develop your capacity for critical thinking
  • improve communication and advocacy skills

Our name is an apt one. The acronym HEALS stands for Healing and Education through the Arts & Life Skills. This illustrates our commitment to helping healthcare professionals explore their thoughts, their creativity and the history of their profession.

The arts and humanities can be an antidote to the stress of the profession. It can help patients and families express their lived experience. Our goal? To cultivate compassion, respect and skill within our healthcare system. We’re not just supporting and teaching trainees and faculty—we’re improving the care of their patients and contributing to our community’s collective well-being.

Embrace your humanity

Although a strong medical education is absolutely critical to your future as a physician or health care professional, there are other elements that can make all the difference to your patients.

Whether you’re a family physician or a researcher, you’ll find yourself relying on human traits like creativity and empathy to give your work that extra push that takes it from adequate to remarkable.

Studying the arts and humanities can help you develop those traits, which is why we provide plenty of opportunities to explore, especially in your first two years of medical school.

Cultivating compassion

The Medical Humanities-HEALS program is an exceptional program designed to enhance medical education by providing an opportunity to explore these distinct areas:

  • visual arts
  • music
  • theatre
  • history of medicine
  • creative writing
  • dance
  • life skills

Our People

Committed to finding joy in medicine

Our Medical Humanities-HEALS program is lead by energetic people who enhance the educational life of students, faculty and staff by opening their world to the benefits that the arts and humanities offer. This then benefits patients and their families.

Arundhati Dhara, MD, MPH, CCFP
Co-Director, Medical Humanities-HEALS (DMNS)
Assistant Professor Department of Family Medicine
Sarah Fraser, MD, MSc, CCFP
Co-Director, Medical Humanities-HEALS (DMNS)
Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Wendy Stewart, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Director, Medical Humanities (DMNB)
Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics
Ana Bela Sardinha
Administrative secretary, Medical Humanities


DMNB Humanities

There is an active Humanities Program at the distributed medical program in Saint John, NB. The distributed program opened its doors to the first students in 2010. Since that time, the students have had the opportunity to be involved in the humanities program and have participated in joint concerts and other activities via video conference with the Halifax site. Want more information?  Visit DNMB Humanities at