Diversity Mini Electives

Encountering the Soul: Engaging Patients’ Religious/Spiritual Beliefs

Spring 2019


Religion and spirituality (R/S) are important components of well-being and clinical care for a majority of U.S. patients, but many clinical students and providers lack the skills to connect with patients and families regarding the influence of religion and spirituality on patients’ health and health care decisions. This elective will approach R/S and health from an attitude of humility to allow respectful exploration of pa-tients’ R/S beliefs and traditions, and skills to support patients with R/S needs.

This mini-elective is designed for medical and nursing students of any religious or spiritual background, including those who identify as non-religious, atheist, or ag-nostic. Students and faculty will explore the influence of R/S on patients’ health care decisions and practice interviewing skills that will allow for conversations with patients on religious/spiritual aspects of their lives. The intention of this mini-elective is not to make students experts in R/S traditions; rather, it proposes to equip students with a set of tools necessary to provide care that is sensitive to their patients’ religious and spiritual beliefs.

The mini-elective may help students address questions such as: How do I address R/S in the clinical encounter in a way that is authentic, compassionate and culturally sensitive? What is the impact of incorporating R/S informed care on key measures that drive clinical care such as quality of life, patient satisfaction, and medical cost utilization? How do I approach a patient with a religious or moral belief that is dif-ferent 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 practicing skills in mock clinical scenarios (with little work outside of the classroom).


1. By the end of this elective educational experience, students will obtain the knowledge to:

  •  Summarize existing data regarding R/S in the healthcare setting.
  •  Identify the extensive religious and spiritual resources for patients who are hospitalized.
  •  Describe cultural competency and situational awareness, as it pertains to patients’ religious or spiritual needs.

Diversity in Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE): Health and Healthcare


Diversity in Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE):

Health and Healthcare



This elective is designed to provide medical students with deeper insight into addressing the health concerns of individuals who identify with a diverse range of SOGIE including those who are transgender, non-binary, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and queer (LGBTQ). Beyond an overview of demographics and health disparities, the course will focus on medical issues as they present to physi-cians in the fields of Internal and Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, OB/GYN, Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Ethics. Themes that will be woven through the elective include: patient-centered care, evidence-based practice, sex positivity, systemic issues including access and barriers to care, intersec-tionality, and ethical issues.

We welcome medical students who are interested in preparing themselves for expertise in serving these individuals and populations as well as those who are curious about the health and healthcare implications of diversity in SOGIE. We welcome students who identify anywhere on the SOGIE spectrum, includ-ing those who consider themselves straight and cis-gender. No prior knowledge about these issues is required; some readings will be assigned.

Course Objectives:

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

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


  • 1. 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.
  • 2. Students are expected to attend all sessions, but may still receive a certifi-cate of completion for attending 5/7 sessions.
  • 3. Students are expected to review any assigned material and to be prepared to engage actively in class discussions.
  • 4. Students must be willing to complete an anonymous pre- and post- course survey to help guide further curriculum development.


Mind-Body Seminar Series




This seminar series focuses on psychosomatic medicine, the interconnections between "mind" and "body" that affect the care of patients in various medical specialties. Scheduled in conjunction with other first-year medical school courses, this mini-elective highlights behavioral and psychiatric aspects of core scientific areas such as neuroscience, genetics, and immunology. All of these disciplines relate to behavioral health, and in this series we will explore those connections.

Each seminar will be led by psychiatry residents and faculty who will present relevant topics informally and invite discussion about clinical challenges in mind-body medicine, particularly how what we know and learn about the basic science of illness translates into the assessment and management of real pa-tients. This elective builds on first-year courses (especially Behavioral Medi-cine and Introduction to Psychiatry) and better prepares students for clinical encounters in third-year.

Readings will be suggested but not required; handouts or other materials may be distributed at sessions.

This mini-elective will be open to all students, not exclusive to those who reg-ister.


  •  Show medical students how the basic science of medicine can inform the understanding and management of mental health conditions
  •  Help medical students appreciate the relevance and value of psychiatry in medicine


  •  Attend at least 3 out of 5 scheduled course sessions
  •  Participate actively in class discussions
  •  Complete course evaluations

Class Year: MS1 and MS2

Contact Information: 412-246-6495; rosenstockjb@upmc.edu 

Women in Medicine Leadership Book Club

Course Dates 2018: October 10, November 7, December 5, January 23, February 20, March 20, April 17, May 22

Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM

Class Year: MS1 and MS2

Course Director: Melissa McNeil, MD, MPH
Department of General Internal Medicine

Sarah Merriam, MD, MSs
Department of General Internal Medicine


Physicians regularly occupy leadership roles in research, educational, and clinical arenas, both in academic institutions and community settings. Yet physician-leaders have been described as "accidental administrators," lacking training in skills necessary to be an effective to leader. Given the current challenges facing healthcare, increasing reliance on interdisciplinary teams to provide care, and greater emphasis on cost control and quality improvement, the need for physi-cians to develop effective leadership skills is paramount. Women leaders find themselves in a double bind, having to contend with gender bias which manifests in multiple ways: widely shared conscious and unconscious association about normed behavior traits, disparities in pay, discrimination related to promotion, and issues of "second-shift" wherein women have a greater difficulty balancing perceived expectation of family obligations to name a few. These challenges are heightened for women of color and members of other underrepresented groups. Given that women hold a small percentage of leadership positions despite making up approximately half of medical students and assistant professors, it is critically important for leadership curricula to promote specific strategies for female train-ees.

This elective will expose female medical students to a variety of leadership do-mains and skills, including but not limited to the following: Communication (public speaking, providing feedback), Collaboration (working with diverse teams, moti-vating others to high performance), Conflict Management (making unpopular de-cisions, resolving interpersonal disagreements), Self-awareness (identifying per-sonal leadership strengths and areas for improvement, balancing personal and professional goals), Time Management, Running Meetings, and Negotiation.

The elective will have two components. First, students will meet monthly to dis-cuss reading assignments (e.g., Lean In, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, The Confidence Code) in a "book club" format. Discussion will be student-driven. Students will be encouraged to bring forward "cases" of leadership or communica-tions challenges they have faced as a springboard for discussion, facilitated by the Course Directors. The second component will involve exposure to successful fe-male leaders from a variety of disciplines (primary care, medical, surgical, global health, behavioral health) and backgrounds (quality/safety improvement, technol-ogy, operations and systems management, innovation) who will discuss their roles, responsibilities, and current challenges in the context of the session read-ing.

Course Objectives:

  •  To expose female medical students to an array of fundamental leadership skills and domains