Resources for publication: Medical Humanities

Happy New Year!

We begin this year on the Humanities blog with a list, of course. But first, a little background.

My first narrative, non-fiction piece was written in the middle of the night after a long day of work. I’d just seen a young man suffering from terminal cancer during a Palliative Care consultation and was haunted by the experience. After a few hours of writing, I uploaded my draft to the author’s submission page at the Annals of Internal Medicine, and clicked send.

I was lucky, very lucky. It was accepted, which set the bar artificially low for me. (Click here to read an excerpt.) In the coming years, I submitted other pieces of non-fiction and poetry, racking up a nice list of rejections (the necessary accoutrements for any writer!). After a lot of work (and work shopping via the Seven Doctors Project), I did manage to publish in several other journals.

There exists a wealth of journals out there willing to review your creative work, and hopefully publish it. The following is a list of places to consider, if you want to submit narrative non-fiction, humanities-related fiction, poetry, artwork and photography.

Annals of Internal Medicine: publishes narrative non-fiction pieces from the physican’s perspective (“On Being A Doctor”) and patient (“On Being A Patient”). Also accepts photography for the cover (“Personae”) history of medicine pieces, and poetry.

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association): “A Piece of My Mind” is a feature for medical vignettes. They also publish poetry as well.

New England Journal Of Medicine: In the “Perspective” section, NEJM publishes pieces on the intersection of medicine and society. “Occasional Notes” are for more personal pieces of writing.  They also publish photographs throughout the journal.

JGIM(Journal of General Internal Medicine): In their “Materia Medica” section, JGIM publishes personal essays, short stories, and poetry. “Text and Context” are for excerpts from literature/poetry accompanied by an essay.

CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal): CMAJ has a robust online and print Humanities section. They accept fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry, photography, and illustrations.

Hektoen International: HI is an online humanities journal. They publish illustrations, photography, narrative fiction and non-fiction, essays and scholarly articles.

Hospital Drive: University of Virginia journal of humanities and literature. They accept poetry, prose, artwork and audiofile submissions.

Bellevue Literary Review: Publishes prose and poetry related to the theme of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body.

Lancet: Holds the annual Wakely Prize for an essay on the topic of health and healthcare. Submissions are usually due by October.

The Abaton: This Des Moines University online journal accepts poetry, prose, essays, photography and artwork. Also holds the annual Selzer Prize.

The Examined Life: A Literary Journal of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine: They accept fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

American Journal of Nursing: Publishes works of narrative non-fiction, essays, photography and artwork. Though it doesn’t say on the submission guidelines, I believe they accept poetry as well.

Yale Journal for the Humanities in Medicine: Accepts poetry, prose and book reviews, see submission guidelines.

Touch-The Journal of Healing: Accepts poetry, prose, artwork/graphics related to health, healing, spirituality and gender issues. See submission guidelines.

Medical Humanities (BMJ): Accepts short pieces of poetry and prose, as well as book film and art reviews to round out their academic humanities journal.

I’m sure there are many other places to submit, so feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Have a wonderful (and creative) New Year!

Lydia Kang, MD
Dr. Kang has been writing since 2006. Her narrative medical essays and poetry have been published in JAMA, JGIM, the Annals of Internal Medicine, CMAJ, and upcoming in Hektoen International. Her first novel, a light young adult science fiction story, will be published in 2013 by Dial/Penguin.




Humanities Resources

By Virginia Aita, PhD MSN

Medical Humanities resources are abundant for those interested in writing, teaching or just enjoying the materials that are available.  Three resources are listed below.

One of the richest repositories of literature and arts is known as the New York University Literature, Arts and Medicine Database located at:

This database contains literature, information about authors, and a reading room for those interested in the intersection of literature and medicine. A similar collection of works of arts, information about the artists, and a viewing room for those interested in the intersection of art and medicine is available.  In addition there is information about the performing arts and films.  There is also a very useful search function on the site.

Another resource with a wealth of medical humanities materials is from the University of Pittsburg located at

This research resource makes available a collection of materials in the history of medicine and lists recent dissertations written by students studying medical history and the humanities. The site also lists databases in the history of medicine and offers a collection of full length videos dealing with the history of medicine.  Special Collections features as well as educational lectures concerning the history of medicine are also available on this site.

A resource closer to home is located on the Nebraska Humanities Council site at

This site lists “favorite links” that include many literary, historical or other humanities works, events, and opportunities having to do with Nebraska’s literary heritage, culture, and plains history.  The Nebraska Humanities Council (NHC) site should be a first stop in the search for works and activities featuring the humanities. The NHC helps fund many humanities events in the state which are listed in the news and calendar feature of the website.

Humanities: A Perspective

Many of the members of the Humanities Council will be posting their perspectives on the Humanities in medicine. This week, we welcome Virginia Aita.

By Virginia Aita, PhD MSN
Virginia is both a nurse and a scholar. Her areas of expertise are in health care humanities and ethics. She is involved in two areas of research including exploring the integration of the arts and humanities with clinical care and in exploring ideas that shaped the history of nursing care.

A renewed interest in the “medical humanities,” arose with the Bioethics Movement in 1970s. The medical humanities consist of works of history, literature, philosophy and religion that intersect with the healing arts.  In an age that has witnessed the enormous growth of medical knowledge and technology, one might wonder why? The reasons are attributed to a growing awareness of what it means to be a patient?

Health care has become ever more specialized while diagnostic and treatment technologies are increasingly complex. Health care providers’ and patients’ relationships can seem distant and fragmented as a result. The “brave new world” of healthcare called for a corrective and it came in the rediscovery of the humanities. Works in the humanities, whatever their format, explore the human condition at its many stages. There, readers may critically examine and reflect upon situations common in the experiences of patients and caregivers.

By reflecting on such works, patients and caregivers may creatively question not only the topics examined, but also their own circumstances and concerns.  This leads to an appreciation of the human condition, and allows for an appreciation of human differences and the ambiguity that life presents. Learning to live with the tensions inherent in life circumstances and health care situations is an important skill for both care providers and patients as they learn to find their voices in the choices that must often be made amidst uncertainty. In the process they may forge more therapeutic and healing relationships.