University of Nebraska Medical Center

Humanities as critical medicine: the necessary practice of uncertainty, adaptability, and discovery

15th annual Richard B. Davis, MD, PhD History of Medicine Lecture featuring Dr. Jay Baruch Humanities as critical medicine: the necessary practice of uncertainty, adaptability and discovery

UPDATE 4/16/24: Please note that the Davis Lecture has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 9 a.m. It will replace the first meet and greet session with Dr. Baruch in the library (WHM 6032). The lecture remains accessible live via Zoom as well.

Dr. Jay Baruch will present for the 15th annual Richard B. Davis, MD, PhD, History of Medicine Lecture, hosted by the McGoogan Health Sciences Library. Dr. Baruch’s lecture, “Humanities as critical medicine: the necessary practice of uncertainty, adaptability, and discovery” will encompass his more than 30 years as an ER physician and the emotions, difficult choices and moral challenges he has experienced. 

The Davis Lecture will take place on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, from noon–1 p.m. CDT. The lecture will be a hybrid event located at the UNMC Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education, room 2014, and via Zoom (registration required). Zoom captioning will be available, along with an American Sign Language interpreter online. UNMC students, faculty and staff can also attend an informal meet and greet with Dr. Baruch on the morning of Wednesday, April 17. See below for additional details. 

“We are delighted to have Dr. Jay Baruch as our lecturer this year. Engaging with storytelling by health care providers allows us to reflect and learn more expansively so that we can continue to transform lives across the state and around the world,” said Emily Glenn, dean of the McGoogan Library. 

As a practicing ER physician for over thirty years, Dr. Baruch has learned that caring for patients can feel like swimming in choppy waters teeming with uncertainty, crests of emotions, difficult choices and moral challenges. He also discovered how bridging disciplines with skills from his other life as a writer and his humanities-and arts-based work have been critical clinical tools in his practice and informed his “accidental” academic career. The humanities provide sharp navigational tools for explorations into those messy spaces where medical data and decision-making tools cannot reach. In his discussion, he will share some personal challenges and offer examples of how the arts and humanities and learning from people who think differently are necessary in a changing health care system. 

Individuals interested in attending the lecture can do so in person (MSC 2014) or register to attend via Zoom. Boxed lunches will be available to the first 35 in-person attendees. 

The library will also hold a drawing for signed copies of Dr. Baruch’s book, Tornado of Life: A Doctor’s Journey Through Constraints and Creativity in the ER. Individuals can enter online. 

Meet and Greet Opportunities 

Gain personal perspectives from Dr. Jay Baruch, a practicing ER physician, who will share his experiences and insights from the profession. Bring your questions. Ask for advice. Talk shop. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

  • 9–10:20 a.m. CDT | WHM 6032 or via Zoom 
  • 10:30–11:50 a.m. CDT | WHM 6032 or via Zoom 

About Dr. Jay Baruch 

Jay Baruch, MD, is a writer, ER physician, educator, and Professor of Emergency Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, where he serves as the director of the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Scholarly Concentration. His academic and creative work centers on the complexity and uncertainty in patient care and the importance of creativity, interdisciplinarity, and the arts as clinical skills.   

He is a former director-at-large, for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and the former medical humanities section chair for the American College of Emergency Physicians. In addition, he is a former faculty fellow at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities at Brown University, where he directed the Creative Medicine Series and served on the leadership team for the Rhode Island Arts and Health group on practice, policy and research.  

Dr. Baruch’s latest book Tornado of Life: A Doctor’s Journey Through Constraints and Creativity in the ER consists of nonfiction essays that show how empathy, creativity, and imagination are the cornerstones of clinical care. He is also the author of two award-winning short fiction collections, What’s Left Out (Kent State University Press, 2015) and Fourteen Stories: Doctors, Patients, and Other Strangers (Kent State University Press, 2007).    

His projects range from work with educators at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum on museum-based curriculum to assist clinicians in reflecting on how they think and feel, to creating authentic spaces for fostering difficult conversations with the RISD Center for Complexity, and a Brown University EdX online course, “Beyond Medical Histories: Gaining Insight from Patient Stories.”  

He presently serves on the steering committee for the Health Humanities Consortium and the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics editorial board.   

Dr. Baruch received the inaugural Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Gold Humanism Award and the Brown Emergency Medicine, Innovations in Education Award.  

About the Davis Lecture 

The Richard B. Davis, MD, PhD, History of Medicine Lectureship brings national experts to the UNMC campus to discuss the history of medicine in support of special collections at the McGoogan Library, including rare books and works on the history of medicine. The lectureship is supported through an endowed fund given by the late Richard B. Davis (1926-2010), MD, PhD, who was a UNMC faculty member from 1969 to 1994 and professor emeritus of internal medicine at UNMC. Dr. Davis and his wife, Jean, provided support for the lectureship out of his longstanding interest in the history of medicine. 

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