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Marcia Day Childress directs Programs in Humanities within the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities. In this role, she oversees courses in humanities disciplines and other educational programming in medical humanities. She is co-founder of Clinician’s Eye, UVA’s art museum-based workshop in visual attention that aims to improve young clinicians’ core clinical skills. She also co-directs the Hook Scholars Program, the Center’s initiative for selected medical students for whom the humanities, arts, or ethics are part of their pathway through medical school and into medical practice.
Professor Childress teaches medical school courses in Literature and Medicine, Images of Medicine, and Calls of Medicine and directs senior medical students’ research in humanities and the arts. Together with a law professor, she leads an Interprofessional Seminar in Ethical Values and Professional Life for medical, law, and graduate architecture students. In the College of Arts and Sciences, she teaches an upper-level undergraduate course, Narratives of Illness and Doctoring, through the Department of English. She is a faculty adviser to the Sloane Society (medical humanities interest group), Veritas (medical student literary arts publication), HeArt of Medicine (joint medical/nursing student initiative to improve education in end-of-life care), and UVA’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.
Professor Childress’s interests include narrative in medicine, interprofessional learning, reflective education and the moral formation of the physician, and uses of literary, visual, and dramatic arts in medical education and preparation for professional life. She writes and speaks nationally and internationally on narrative and the visual arts in medicine, medical education, and end-of-life care. Recent publications and presentations focus on Virginia Woolf’s illness experience and metaphoric language, Samuel Beckett’s short plays, the poetry of Donald Hall, the paintings of Ferdinand Hodler, and teaching literature with professional students. She has twice been a research fellow at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Bioethics, University of Muenster, Germany.
A charter member of the medical school’s Academy of Distinguished Educators, Professor Childress received a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the School of Medicine’s David A. Harrison Distinguished Educator Award, recognizing career achievements in medical education. She was elected as a faculty member to the national medical honor societies Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society and to UVA’s Raven Society. Active in university service, she chaired the university’s Faculty Senate, two Senate standing committees and the President’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns. In 2009, she received UVA’s Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award. Professor Childress’s professional service includes consulting for the American Board of Internal Medicine, chairing the Literature program committee for the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities’ annual meeting, and judging the Gold Foundation’s annual national medical student essay contest.
Professor Childress holds degrees in English literature (B.A. with highest honors, honors in English, and Phi Beta Kappa, Michigan State University; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Virginia, where she wrote a dissertation on Virginia Woolf).