The Penn State College of Medicine Humanities Department has several initiatives that benefit students, faculty, staff and everyone at the Penn State College of Medicine campus. You can find links to some of their projects below.

Members of the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine include, front row from left, Martha Peaslee Levine, MD, Lynn Matincheck, Jennifer McCormick, PhD, Lori Gelatt, Rebecca Volpe, PhD; back row from left, Dan Shapiro, PhD, Michael Green, MD, Dennis Gingrich, MD, Benjamin Levi, MD, PhD, Lynette Chappell-Williams, BA, JD, Dan Wolpaw, MD, Joe Gascho, MD, Carly Smith, PhD, Danny George, PhD, Kimberly Myers, PhD, Cheryl Dellasega, CRNAP, PhD, Katherine Valenziano, DHM, MS, RN, LJ VanScoy, MD, Betsy Blyler, Paul Haidet, MD, Renee Stewart, Keeley McCue and Deb Tomazin. Not pictured are J.O. Ballard, MD, Claire de Boer and Margaret Hopkins.

Humanities Up Close

Our Department of Humanities, the first to be situated in a College of Medicine, is dedicated to the Penn State missions of teaching, research, and service. Our courses are woven throughout the medical school and residency curriculum and our scholarship is multidisciplinary and cutting edge. We are leaders in the study of End-of-Life care, prevention of child abuse, and relational behaviors. Our service activities include clinical care, community outreach, arts and healing, the Farmer’s Market, global missions, as well as many others.

Since our founding in 1956, the Department of Humanities has been a leader in promoting care that is humanistic, compassionate, and technically excellent. Our commitment to respecting every patient’s individual needs continues to be a hallmark of our educational, community, research and clinical priorities.

Visit the Humanities Up Close site

Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine

The ongoing mission of The Doctors Kienle Center is to support, facilitate, and initiate education and research that will render the delivery of healthcare more humane, both locally and nationally. This work has flourished with the support of representatives from many departments throughout Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and with that from volunteers in the hospital, medical school, and community.

Visit the Kienle Center site

Graphic Narratives

Since 2009, fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine have created comics as part of a course called Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives. The course was developed to show fourth-year medical students how graphics and text can be used to effectively communicate complex medical narratives, and to help students develop their own stories into graphic depictions.

Visit the Graphic Narratives site

Patients as Teachers

Embedded into the first year of the medical student curriculum is the experiential Patients as Teachers Project, where students visit patients in their homes to learn about the lived experience of illness. Some students make short films about their patients, and screen them in each spring. Others writes essays reflecting on what they have learned from their patients or develop creative projects to honor their patients’ stories.

Visit the Patients as Teachers site

Wild Onions

Wild Onions is an annual publication funded by The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. It is a journal of poetry, prose, and visual art, created by members of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center community. Most entries will pertain to some dimension of medicine (for example, the experiences, observations, and reflections of patients, nurses, physicians, medical students, family members, hospital staff, volunteers, visitors, etc.), but we invite submissions on all topics.

Visit the Wild Onions site

Humanities First Fridays

Join us from September through May, as the Department of Humanities in conjunction with the Drs. Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine presents a noon-hour brown-bag discussion of a humanities-related topic. The sessions are free, open to all, and no pre-registration is required.

For details, about these programs call the Humanities Department at 717-531-8778 or email Claire de Boer at

Visit the Humanities First Fridays site