The Healer's art course is offered in the fourth year, when students start the clinical phase of their studies. This course has been developed by Dr. Rachel Remen, professor of family and community medicine at UCSF, who heads the Institute for the study of Health & Illness (ISHI) institute in Commonville, California.
The course has been taught at UCSF as of 1992, and since then in about 70 more schools of medicine in the US (including Harvard, Yale, Stanford), as well as in Canada, Australia, Slovenia, Taiwan and Israel. The course aims to strengthen the professional identity of medical students; to create a community of shared values between medical students and their teachers; to protect against cynicism, depression and the loss of commitment to serve as a doctor; to help students retain the long-term significance of medical practice, to help students acquire ways of preserving personal and professional satisfaction, to clarify professional values and commitment and to encourage a process of self-reflection and self-care.
This is an elective course, comprised of 5 meetings. Each meeting starts with a lecture or an exercise, followed by meetings in small groups (4-5 students with a facilitator). The topics dealt with are: Discovering and fostering the "self" of the physician; coping with loss and mourning; enchantment, mystery and awe in medicine; care as a way of life.