Abington announces new major in health humanities

Abington new major

Priya Mathiy and Sargent Acosta chose the new health humanities major at Penn State Abington because it will help make them more attractive candidates for medical school. 

Credit: Pam Brobst

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington has announced a new degree program in health humanities, bringing the total number of undergraduate degrees that can be completed at the campus to 24. 

Students choosing this unique degree will learn to think critically about the complex social and cultural issues that define how we understand health and medicine and prepare for careers in a broad variety of fields. It will help students develop an understanding of the influence of cultural, social, political, and economic contexts on health, healthcare, and medicine. 

Through experiential learning, internship opportunities, and interesting coursework, students will learn to develop creative solutions to healthcare issues affecting individuals and communities. Courses in communication arts and sciences, philosophy, English, sciences, social science, Asian studies, history, and those with a global or comparative focus are among the options available. Students can choose coursework toward either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in health humanities. 

The program will prepare students for careers and to earn advanced degrees in medicine, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, among others. Career options could include a focus on healthcare or in a field with health-related components such as: 

  • Advocacy 

  • Business 

  • Education 

  • Heath professions including administration and human services 

  • Law 

  • Public health 

  • Social work 

In my career as an obstetrician and gynecologist, I’ll be dealing with people and really sensitive topics and emotions. Health humanities will support me in that aspect of my work and complement my degree in biology.

—Priya Mathiy , Student

Priya Mathiy, a rising sophomore, chose health humanities because it combines her interest in the humanities and arts with her goal of becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist. 

“In my career, I’ll be dealing with people and really sensitive topics and emotions. Health humanities will support me in that aspect of my work and complement my degree in biology,” she said. 

Sargent Acosta, another sophomore majoring in health humanities, plans to apply to medical school, too. 

“I’ve always been interested in the sciences, and I want to become a pediatrician. I believe the health humanities major will help me be more interactive with patients and their families and loved ones,” he said. 

Research suggests that academically, medical students with undergraduate degrees in the humanities perform as well as those with science backgrounds, but they tend to have better empathy and communication skills, and a more patient-centered outlook.  

Contact Pierce Salguero, professor and program chair of Health Humanities, for more information. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors Program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.