Stenson to explore medical humanities in Writers@Work residency

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Emilee Stenson

Emilee Stenson

Writers@Work, in collaboration with multiple humanities and STEM departments, will host a full-day residency, “Sustaining Medical Humanities as an Ethical and Interdisciplinary Field,” with SUNY Fredonia alumna Emilee Stenson on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

In keeping with the Hippocratic Oath’s principle that “There is art to medicine as well as science,” the rise of the medical humanities in many medical schools recognizes the essential role of the humanities and the arts in creating relationships with patients, communicating effectively and allowing physicians to remain connected to themselves.

Throughout the residency, Ms. Stenson, a second-year student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (JSMBS) at the State University at Buffalo and the past recipient of a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, will draw on interdisciplinary work she began while she was at Fredonia, as well as her experiences since, to emphasize the vital importance of the humanities in medical humanities as well as effective communication skills for health and medical professionals. Stenson earned her Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Fredonia in Molecular Genetics in 2021.

Sessions will be held on medical humanities, in WGST/ENGL 314: Women Writers; combating misinformation, in WRTG 366: Opinion in Journalism; and applications for medical school, focusing on the application essay and interviews. All are free, open to the public events, which run from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and are supported in part by the Phyllis W. and Lawrence A. Patrie Endowment for the Sciences through the Fredonia College Foundation.

“Working at Intersections: Emphasizing the Humanities in Medical Humanities” will stress the importance of humanities and interdisciplinary scholarship to the sciences and to medicine, specifically, and will draw in part on examples from the incorporation of the humanities at the State University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Stenson will also highlight how various fields in the humanities can be used to address health disparities and create curriculum to educate physicians moving forward in their careers. The talk will be held in Fenton Hall Room 127 (English Reading Room) from 9:30 to 10:50 a.m.

In another talk, “Combatting Mis-/Disinformation in Science/Health Through Intersectional, Interdisciplinary Writing, Stenson will emphasize how writing-based majors contribute to medical humanities. The session, to be given in WRTG 366: Opinion in Journalism, will be held at Thompson Hall Room E120 at 2 p.m.

Stenson’s last two presentations will focus on communication for science and pre-health students.

The penultimate session, “Writing Beyond the Lab: Using the Humanities as a Critical Component of Strong Health Professions Applications,” will focus on helping students develop brainstorming and writing tools to craft their application essays to Research Experiences for Undergraduates and health professional schools. The session will be held in Science Center Room 122 from 5 to 6 p.m.

Students prepare drafts of these in BIOL 275: Health Professions Careers, but it is a challenging endeavor for most students who find it difficult to articulate career goals using personal experiences. The workshop will provide students with the opportunity to develop their ability to communicate effectively.

The last session – which will take place in multiple locations throughout the Science Center, starting with Kelly Family Auditorium Room 105 at 6:15 p.m. – will provide a hands-on opportunity for students to develop their skill in conducting the kinds of high-stakes multiple mini interviews that often factor in medical school admissions or undergraduate research experience applications.

The mock interviews provide a scenario and then the applicants are asked to provide their analysis on insight on the topic. A common format is for candidates to get one to two minutes to read the scenario and begin to formulate their thoughts, then they have six to eight minutes to answer or discuss the answer with the interviewer.

Medical schools are looking for the ability of applicants to think on their feet and consider different perspectives to the scenarios they are provided, which may be ethical dilemmas. As with the application essay workshop, the experience facilitated by multiple faculty member interviewers, along with Stenson, should greatly benefit students' communication skills.

A graduate of the Fredonia Honors Program with minors in Chemistry and English, Stenson completed in-depth work on Virginia Woolf supported by an Undergraduate Student Research Award, sponsored by Dr. Donald Nelson Nasca through the Fredonia College Foundation; and as a senior, she presented peer-reviewed papers at the annual international Woolf conference and the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins, as well as the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference.

Stenson, of Attica, NY, has maintained her passion for the medical humanities at JSMBSUB by serving as president of multiple clubs, including the Bioethics Club and the Literature Society at the school. In the future, she intends to become a physician and an educator, continuing to implement medical humanities and bioethics in her work.

The residency is sponsored by the following grants and departments: the Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities of the Fredonia College Foundation, the Department of English, the Faculty Student Association, Fredonia Alumni Association and the Phyllis W. and Lawrence A. Patrie Endowment for the Sciences of the Fredonia College Foundation.

Additional residency partners include the Department of Biology, Ethnic & Gender Studies Program/ Interdisciplinary Studies, Health Professions Advising Office, and the Health Professions Club.

The permanent Writers@Work series committee members represent the following offices and departments: Alumni Affairs, School of Business, Career Development Office, Department of English, the Fredonia Honors Program, the Fredonia Technology Incubator and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

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