Diversity Mini Electives

Will You Pray With Me? Exploring the Role of Religion and Spirituality within the Medical Encounter

Religion and spirituality (R/S) are important to a majority of patients in the context of medical care, but many clinical students and providers lack the skills to connect with patients and families regarding the influence of religion and spirituality on their health and health care decisions. In fact, the majority of Pitt medical stu-dents identify as agnostic or atheist, which may be a barrier to addressing some of the needs of patients who perceive R/S as relevant to their health care. Alterna-tively, some providers who themselves have strong religious and spiritual beliefs, may find it difficult to counsel and provide care for patients especially when pa-tients seek treatment or counsel contrary to those beliefs. We will discuss the atti-tude of humility as a way for allowing respectful exploration of and support for pa-tients’ beliefs and traditions and their influence on health and health care.

This mini-elective is designed for medical, nursing and allied health science stu-dents of any faith or spiritual background, including those who identify as non-religious, atheist, or agnostic. Students and faculty will explore the influence of various faith traditions on patients’ health care decisions and practice interviewing skills that will allow for conversations with patients about religion and spirituality. The intention of this mini-elective is not to make students experts in R/S traditions; rather, it proposes to equip students of all backgrounds with a set of tools neces-sary to provide R/S informed care to their patients.

Students who will benefit from this mini-elective may find themselves questioning: How do I address R/S in the medical encounter in a way that is authentic, compas-sionate and culturally sensitive? What is the impact of incorporating R/S informed care on key measures that drive medical care such as quality of life, patient satis-faction, and medical cost utilization? How do I approach a patient with a religious or moral belief that is different than my own? Can I become a better provider by providing R/S informed care to my patients?

Students who participate in this mini-elective will enjoy learning from live patient informants, didactic sessions, open forum discussions, and mock clinical scenarios with standardized patients (with little outside of the classroom work). Students who complete this mini-elective will also learn to assess patients with a three-question spiritual history; refer patients to the extensive pastoral-care/chaplaincy resources available at UPMC; and to consider patient R/S as an important and necessary component of high-quality healthcare.

View Will You Pray With Me? registration details » 

Topics in LGBTQ Health

This elective is designed to provide medical students with deeper insight into addressing the health concerns of transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and populations. Beyond an overview of de-mographics and health disparities, the course will focus on medical issues as they present to physicians in the fields of Medicine and Family Medicine, Pedi-atrics, Surgery, OB/GYN, Psychiatry and Ethics. Themes that will be woven through the elective include: patient-centered care, evidence-based care, sex positivity, systems issues including access and barriers to care, intersectionali-ty, and ethical issues.

This mini-elective is designed for medical students of any sexual or gender identity who are interested in exploring medical aspects of care for members of the LGBTQ community. The intention is not to make students experts in LGBTQ care, rather to deepen existing knowledge, skill and self-awareness.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the evidence base for medical decision-making regarding various aspects of LGBTQ healthcare.
  • Demonstrate skill in interviewing and counseling LGBTQ patients via role-play and practice with Standardized Patients.
  • Evaluate their own attitudes and preparation for a career that includes providing care for LGBTQ individuals and populations.


  • Students must demonstrate respect for each other, the faculty and the subject matter, including a willingness to explore topics that may be unfa-miliar and uncomfortable.
  • Students are expected to attend all session, but may still receive a certifi-cate of completion for attending 4/6 sessions.
  • While there are no required readings or exams, students should be pre-pared to engage actively in class discussions.
  • Students must be willing to complete an anonymous pre- and post- course survey to help guide further curriculum development.

View Topics in LGBTQ Health registration details »