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Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics Brief Biennial Report 2022: Executive summary focusing on teaching, service, and publications.


Educating medical students to be physicians involves many dimensions. While a firm grasp of scientific knowledge and technical skill is essential, patient care calls co-equally for a developed humanity. In an educational culture where science and technology necessarily dominate the curriculum, they need not dominate the academic value system. Cultivating humanistic virtues is at the core of all good medical care and the full well-being of those within it. We seek to educate great physician humanists as well as physician scientists. Our view is focused on Professional Identity Formation (PIF). We nurture the strengths and virtues that help students navigate the human challenges of medical training within an intentional reflective process, leading to deeper appreciation of the illness experience and compassionate patient care. We seek a formative process towards compassionate flourishing that unfolds through dialogue and reflection on the human aspects of patient care and the student experience.


MD with Scholarly Concentration Track in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

The Medical Humanities and Ethics track of the MD with Scholarly Concentration Program (SCP) is designed to foster rigorous scholarship and significant creativity in the humanities – including but not limited to the virtues and professional identity formation (PIF), the art and science of compassionate care, the care of the self (including clinician resilience), clinical ethics and consultation, philosophy of medicine, just access to healthcare, law and medicine, medical anthropology, literature and narrative medicine, art and observation, medical ethics and world religions, death and dying (including assisted suicide), history of medicine, public policy, and various medical ethical quandaries across the life span. All projects should have the potential for a publishable contribution to knowledge using the research methods of the relevant discipline or field, beginning with a scoping style literature review working with a Stony Brook reference librarian.

Center faculty are highly active as medical student mentors in the MD with Scholarly Concentration program.   

Center Affiliated Faculty Mentors in the program available as mentors include:

  • Michelle Ballan, PhD
  • Maria A. Basile MD, MBA track co-leader
  • Richard A. Bronson MD
  • Liam Butchart, MD, MA
  • Gregg Cantor, DO, MA
  • John L. Coulehan MD, MPH
  • Lisa Diedrich, PhD
  • Brooke M. Ellison PhD
  • Craig Malbon, PhD, MDiv
  • Phyllis Migdal MD, MA
  • Brian Papszycki, MA
  • Jedan Phillips, MD
  • Stephen G. Post PhD track co-leader
  • Lisa Strano-Paul, MD
  • Caitlyn Tabor, JD
  • Nancy Tomes, PhD
  • Jeffrey Trilling MD
  • Michael Vetrano PhD
  • Clare Whitney, PhD
  • Kevin Zacharoff, MD

The 2025 class of year-one medical students saw 25 students enrolling in our track in Medical Humanities & Bioethics. Forty-nine percent of all of the SCP students in the Class of 2025 enrolled in our track.

Graduate Education

The center offers a 30-credit MA degree in Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics in which all core faculty actively participate. We have graduated 12 classes comprised of an average of 12 to 15 students. These students are a mix of active health care professionals, “gap” year students who have recently graduated from college and are preparing for professional schools, and medical students enrolled in the joint MD/MA program. We also have a nascent MSW/MA program.

Many “gap” year students go on to pursue terminal degrees.

Medical schools including:

  • Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
  • NYU Grossman School of Medicine
  • Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Penn State College of Medicine
  • Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Tulane University School of Medicine
  • University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)

Dental schools including:

  • Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine
  • NYU College of Dentistry

Clinical MSW programs include:

  • Stony Brook School of Social Welfare
  • Columbia University School of Social Work
  • Case Western Reserve, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Law Schools and doctoral programs including:

  • Harvard Law School
  • University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • University of Maryland Carey School of Law
  • University of Chicago
  • Yale University
  • Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
  • Marquette University

Physician Assistant programs including:

  • Stony Brook School of Health Professions
  • University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences
  • Touro University School of Health Sciences of Touro College
  • University of New England Westbrook College of Health Professions (WCHP)

Nursing schools including:

  • Stony Brook School of Nursing
  • Case Western Reserve University, Prances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
  • Columbia University School of Nursing

A number of our students go directly into professional careers simply with the MA degree.

  • Live on NY
  • NIH- National Cancer Center Research Ethics Committee
  • Various health policy institutes

An enrollment breakdown of Fall 2022 students is 11 MA, 25 MD/MA, 2 MSW/MA.

Our joint MD/MA program is the most highly enrolled joint master’s degreeprogram in the School of Medicine (Class of 2025).

Grand Rounds

We have an estimated eight Grand Rounds events each academic year often with outside speakers of distinction. These usually draw an audience in the 50 to 100 range mostly from Stony Brook University.

Clinical Teaching

Center personnel are involved in Schwartz Rounds and Reflection Rounds.

  • Schwartz Rounds are facilitated by Drs. Post, Rina Meyer, and Rahul Panesar through Stony Brook Children’s Hospital since 2016. These bi-monthly rounds engage the human and emotional side of the clinician experience and are attended by 50 to 70 doctors, nurses, clinical social workers, child life specialists, and residents. Drs. Post and Myer were trained at the Schwartz Center for Compassionate care at Boston Children’s.
  • Clerkship Reflection Rounds began in 2014 and have now spread to most required clerkships for Phase Three medical students. Drs. Lisa Strano-Paul and Post were trained in reflection rounds at inception at George Washington School of Medicine, and have gathered together upwards of 14 facilitators here at Renaissance School of Medicine.
  • Residency Reflections Rounds are offered in Pediatrics, Neurology, Internal Medicine, and Med-Peds.

Medicine in Contemporary Society (MCS)

We are proud of our core pre-clinical educational commitment in the medical school, the Medicine in Contemporary Society course, which the 2010 LCME review cited as a particular area of strength in the medical school:

“The medical school has made a strong commitment to strengthening its emphasis on humanities, ethics, and professionalism. This is most clearly evident in the creation of a Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics; required coursework and focus on these subjects throughout the curriculum; and ongoing assessment and tracking of professionalism, ethics, and personal values as one of the core domains in the school's competency framework.”

All faculty facilitate 16 small group sessions across academic year one as well as present lectures and teach selective four-week seminars.

Various faculty also volunteer when available to facilitate small groups in Dr. Iris Granek’s Themes in Medical Education (TIME)course, which is distinct from MCS but considered a core obligation that complements MCS. 

All faculty offer MCS Selective seminars (14 total) in the spring of Phase I for four weeks at two-hours per week, although some meet monthly all year as in the case of the doctor poets of Astonished Harvest.

In Phase Two there is no MCS curriculum as we have moved our focus to the Clerkship Reflection Rounds with Drs. Lisa Strano-Paul and Post (co-founders). This endeavor enlists most of our faculty as small group facilitators on a regular basis, often with five or six sessions a week total across the clerkships. Scheduling is facilitated by the Clerkship Administrators. 

In Phase Three (Year 4) we have MCS IV- Independent Research Projects in the form of electives with an estimated 15- 20 students enrolling per year.

Astonished Harvest Poetry Community

TheAstonished Harvest a poetry community, founded by Richard Bronson, M.D., Maria Basile, M.D. John L. Coulehan, M.D., three poet-physicians, helps encourage active participation in the medical humanities among Stony Brook medical students. Astonished Harvest started in 2009 and met monthly in the nearby village of Setauket to involve the greater poetry community. In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, the group continued to meet virtually and the number of engaged participants grew.

Year 4 Selectives

Year 4 medical students are required to take one Year 4 Selective lasting four weeks. The Center offers:

  • Cultivating Compassion in Medicine: How Healthcare professionals can build compassion toolkits (MED 471)
  • Law and Medicine: New York Jurisprudence and Medical Students (MED 464)




History of Medicine Lecture Series

Through Grand Rounds the Center maintains an active history of medicine series with support from the Coller Fund.

Hospital Ethics Committee

Dr. Migdal, MD, MA (a graduate of our MA program in 2018) is active with the Hospital Ethics Committee as a co-leader offering clinical ethics consultations, co-chairing the annual hospital ethics conference, and teaching a MA course in Clinical Ethics. Drs. Post and Basile are also members of the HEC, along with numerous clinical graduates of our MA program.

Hospital and School of Medicine Committees

Center faculty serve on a number of committees in the school of medicine including: The Committee on Admissions, Resource Allocation and Planning Committee (RAAP), Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, Curriculum Evaluation Working Group (CEWG), Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Special Topics Committee, Curriculum Committee, Core Competencies Committee, CME Education Committee, Medical School Ten-Year Educational Planning Committee, Committee on Academic Standing , MD With Scholarly Concentration Steering Committee, the Clinician Well-Being Committee, and the Academy of Clinical & Educational Scholars.


Professional Identity Formation Working Group  

Various faculty members are engaged with this ongoing working group, which is co-chaired by Richard Iuli and SG Post. This group considers the virtues and character strengths of the well formed medical student, and serves to enhance our curriculum.

Journal Editorial Boards

  • Fertility & Sterility (Bronson)
  • Journal of Reproductive Immunology (Bronson)
  • The Pharos of AOA (Coulehan, Bronson)
  • Journal of Medical Humanities (Basile)
  • Medical Encounter (Coulehan/Poetry Editor)
  • The Pharos (Coulehan/Book Review Editor)
  • Qualitative Health Research (Coulehan/Associate Editor)
  • Bellevue Literary Review (Coulehan)
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association (Post)
  • Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice (Post)           

Professional Societies

  • American Medical Association (Basile/Delegate)
  • Medical Society of the State of New York House of Delegates, the largest policy-making body for organized medicine in New York (Basile/Vice Speaker)
  • Suffolk County Medical Society (Basile/Past President)
  • National Association for Poetry Therapy (Basile/National Advisory Board)
  • American College of Physicians (Coulehan)
  • American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (Post, Basile, Migdal)
  • Empire State Bioethics Consortium (Post, Migdal, Basile)

Board of Directors of Non-Profits

  • Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (Coulehan/President, Bronson/Trustee, Basile/Officer)
  • Long Island Poetry Collective (Coulehan, Bronson)

Publications & Public Speaking

Faculty publish regularly in leading national medical journals and edited books. The faculty have published many chapters as well as several notable texts and books. SG Post has just completed Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People: How Caregivers Can Meet the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease for the Johns Hopkins University Press. Dr. Trilling has completed a book manuscript on physician-patient-family communication. Recent titles of physician poetry have been published by Drs. Coulehan (The Wound Dresser), Bronson (Imperfect Knowledge), and Basile (New Not New). A detailed list of faculty books can be found on the website (    

Currently Center faculty publish an estimated 15 articles per year in peer-review journals.

Faculty speak frequently across Stony Brook Medicine, regionally and nationally or internationally.


Alpha Omega Alpha

SG Post Co-Recipient of the 2019 National Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Professionalism Award “Recognizing best practices in medical professionalism education, the 2019 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Professionalism Award has been awarded to Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University for their Professional Identity Formation curriculum.” [Professional socialization and the development of reflective capacity are critical elements that shape a medical student’s professional identity with a goal to develop physicians who can bring their “whole person to provide whole person care.” The professional identity of an excellent doctor embraces empathy, mindful attention to patient care, integrity, self-awareness, teamwork, beneficence, respect, and equal regard for all, as well as an eagerness to learn, resilience, and attention to self-care.]

Suffolk County Poet Laureate

Richard Bronson (2021- 2023)

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (Renaissance School of Medicine Faculty Award)

Dr. Rina Meyer (2021)

Excellence in Student Mentoring Award (Renaissance School of Medicine Faculty Award)

Dr. Kevin Zacharoff (2021)