History of Medicine & Health Care Program

The program in History of Medicine & Health Care has two major components: the History of Medicine course (this section) and the History of Medicine Days conference (next tab)


  1. A series of lectures and seminars held on Mondays from 12:30 - 1:20 p.m.  These provide an overview of history of medicine through lectures given by faculty and highlight particular themes, episodes, controversies, people or events.  During the latter half of the course, there is abundant opportunity for the students to give presentations on their topics of interest and to engage in mutual discussion.
  2. A series of informal Thursday evening “workshops” from 17:30 - 19:20 p.m., offering practical instruction and experience on various topics ranging from skills of public presentation, academic discussion, research methodology to the history and practice of medical techniques. Half of the workshops are co-taught by incoming speakers from various university departments. Occasionally, light refreshments are provided.

The lecture/seminar course runs from late August until March. To see a poster of the current course, please click here


The course is intended to be instructive as well as recreational. It offers opportunity for discussion of many issues related to medicine, health science, and the public implications of well-being. The workshops are intended to provide instruction, discussion, amusement, and relaxation. Further, it is a good chance to make more informal relationships with faculty.


The History of Medicine course is not part of the curriculum per se within the Cumming School of Medicine but considered an Elective Course. However, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education in the Cumming School of Medicine does receive a letter about each student outlining their participation in the course and any spin off activities (e.g., archival work, presentations in Calgary and beyond, student paper publications, etc.). Presentations and publications are always valuable additions to a student's curriculum vitae.

History Students (to join up)

The Chair of the History of Medicine and Health Care program, Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch, is jointly appointed in the Medical Faculty and in the History Department (Faculty of Arts). Interested History students are also eligible to take the History of Medicine course. Although there are no formal requirements, having taken some basic courses on American History, European History or the History of Science before will count as an asset. If more than the eligible number of students will sign up for the course, such prior competences are used as the selection criteria. Further contact information, on signing up for the course, is given on the website of the UofC History Department, as well as through the following Poster Link.

Medical Students (to join up)

Students who wish to join should contact Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch ( A few weeks after the commencement of the course, an interview will be set up for individual students to choose an area of research interest and be matched with a preceptor. Having a preceptor is mandatory as it provides an independent opportunity for discussion and channels the direction of students to possible future working fields. Please contact Dr. Stahnisch right away, at the latest by end of August. First comers have widest choices.

Expectations of the Medical Students

All students must:

  1. Prepare and present a seminar of about 30 minutes on a topic they have researched.
  2. Do a methodological group assignment on "Heroes, Rogues, and Charlatans" leading to a 10 min. short presentation.
  3. Attend the noon seminars and the evening workshops.

All students are encouraged to:

  1. Prepare an abstract of their topic for the History of Medicine Days (HMD).
  2. Present a 12-minute Powerpoint version of their topic at HMD.
  3. Submit a manuscript (~ 15 pages) on their topic to be published in the “Proceeding of History of Medicine Days.”

Other Opportunities for Students

Students may submit abstracts on medical topics to the Royal College of Family Physicians of Canada for their student prize competition. Further, a number of presenting students at the History of Medicine Days conference will be invited to present their work at the Margaret Hutton Lectures of the annual meetings of the Alberta Medical Association.

Some students have additional opportunities to publish their manuscripts by submitting them to the Osler Prize Medal competition at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Mediicine (AAHM) in April of the following year. And last but not least, all students are encouraged (in communication with their preceptors) to send an abstract to the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (CSHM); these will be reviewed by the program committee and, occasionally, advanced students and good research projects are invited for panel presentation. In the past, several students have also given interviews on their topics to both the Gountlet Newspaper and CBC Radio.

Those students who are particularly interested in submitting their final paper to the AAHM are advised to contact Dr. Jim Wright in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine ( He can give further guidance on the application and submission process.

Students who wish to pursue their interest in history of medicine and science further may also attend seminars in the Department of History (please contact Dr. Stahnisch, and the Department of Greek and Roman Studies (please contact Prof. Toohey, Furthermore, their active participation is greatly appreciated in the inter-Faculty History and Philosophy of Science Program ( on Main Campus.

Summer Electives

Advanced students have the opportunity to choose History of Medicine as an option in their academic elective during the 2nd year. Occasionally, students from other universities are also residents in the program and come in to work on a research project over the summer. Priority is given to students who work on similar subjects as the Calgary faculty (resp. History and Philosophy of Neuroscience, History of Psychiatry and Public Mental Health, History of Physiology and Laboratory Medicine, History of Visualization Techniques in the Life Sciences). Work places can be provided during the summer season, while residents are required to give one presentation on their topic to the History of Medicine and Health Care group. Please contact Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch sufficiently in advance (ca. half a year before), so that all necessary arrangements can be made.

Objectives of the Program

  1. Learn the outlines of the history of medicine & health care.
  2. Learn some aspect of history medicine & health care in detail.
  3. Develop a critical appreciation of history of medicine and what it contributes to our understanding of the profession, the doctor-patient relationship, and the development of modern biomedical science.
  4. Develop skills in giving seminars and brief presentations to meetings. (i.e., rhetoric, audio-visual aids, Powerpoint presentations).
  5. Develop skills in researching a historical topic.
  6. Tune up essay writing skills.
  7. Appreciate the culture of medicine and healing in their development to our modern times.

If you have questions and/for further information, please visit the Contact tab.