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“to shed light where there is darkness...”
— Lux in Tenebris Lucet – “The light that shines in the darkness”


The Society for Medical Humanities is an organization of PostBaccalaureate PreMedical Students at Columbia University's School of General Studies. We believe that the minds of the greatest scientists and physicians are a mosaic of many different interests, passions, and ways of thinking. Many members of the PostBac community come from backgrounds in the humanities. These students often seek a space where they can engage in their former interests, while also maintaining the challenging pre medical course load. The Society for Medical Humanities challenges these individuals to bring together and connect their many interests and passions through our group’s discussions and physician lecture series. 


There has been considerable dialogue since the 1980’s concerning the benefit of the humanities for medical education. Doctors are not only scientists, but leaders in the community who become intimately familiar with the human condition in order to serve. The act of performing scientific procedures and experiments as well as working with human health care requires creative thinking, rigorous computation, and the ability to envision a future that lurks in the unknown and undiscovered. The human condition has been studied throughout the ages by many brilliant minds.  The study of humanities draws on disciplines such as literature, music, history, and art to reason and navigate challenging life situations.  The humanities often accompany doctors as they evolve and develop a clinical practice that gracefully interacts with the fragility of sickness. 

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Columbia Society for Medical Humanities (CSMH) provides the pre- medical student body with a public forum focused at the intersection of medicine and the humanities. We hope to enrich the lives of students at the university by creating an opportunity to engage in meaningful interdisciplinary discussions that have the potential to imbue the education of future doctors with thoughtful and holistic perspectives. This organization seeks to further augment the mission of the School of General Studies, “to shed light where there is darkness,” by providing an outlet for the future creative and innovative minds entering the scientific and medical communities.

The Future of Medical Humanities

Our hope is that the future physicians and scholars will create new synergies between many domains and continue to embrace innovative thinking.  The future of health depends on our ability to learn from lessons and wisdom presented throughout history.  By combining these many domains, we acknowledge that art is truly the act of creating, regardless of the particular domain of interest.