Course on Personalism in Medicine to be offered Fall 2018

Author: Cliff Djajapranata

Jordan Hall And Hesburgh Library 1200

 The College of Science will be offering a 1.5-credit pass/fail course in the Fall semester called “Introduction to Personalism in Medicine: The Pathos Project.”


Founded by medical students and physicians in 2005, the course stems from a deep concern over the depersonalization of medical care. Compassion, empathy, and attention to the suffering patient are too often left as glaring holes during clinical interactions. While not the sole cause of this failure, deficiencies in medical training undoubtedly contribute. The Pathos Project recognizes that developing clinical competence is necessary but not sufficient for physicians and other clinicians, and responds to the crisis in the doctor-patient relationship by developing a consciousness of suffering and its contextual interpersonal dynamics. 


This course meets on nine Thursday nights and/or possibly one Tuesday night interspersed throughout the semester from 7 to 9 p.m. The dates should be finalized by the time classes begin. 


This is a small discussion-based class that covers the topics of patient suffering, the skill of "being-with" as the foundation of patient care, patient-physician relationship, formation of the physician, spirituality in medicine, biomedical reductionism, and even humor in medicine.  Fr. James Foster, M.D., Marcus Engel, and Dominic Vachon, Ph.D., will facilitate the discussions. 


Course requirements are a couple of articles for each class, a limited volunteer requirement at a local site or one that you may already be volunteering at, attendance at least 8 of the 9 sessions, a couple of short reflection papers, and a 5-page reflection/integration paper at the end of the course.  


Preference is given to juniors and seniors, but the class is opened to all undergrads if there are openings after juniors and seniors have had the opportunity to enroll.  To register for the course, you must e-mail Dominic Vachon at or Fr. Jim Foster at   


If you have any questions, please contact call Prof. Vachon at 631-9536 or e-mail him at

Originally published by Cliff Djajapranata at on April 24, 2018.