One Semester Practicum


In this highly individualized course, students will spend one semester working with a mentor in an organization related to health and conduct their own research project. The organizations with which the mentors are affiliated will vary by semester and are listed below. Students learn about these organizations through assisting a mentor and conduct research into a medical humanities topic that will be presented to the public as a paper, RURS presentation, website, or other project. Students may also propose their own practicum topic, and the requirements are described below.

Students might work alone with the partner organization or in a small group. Some students will spend several hours per week on site with their mentor, and others will work remotely. Note that the time spent with the mentor varies greatly by project. In general, however, the practicum should take approximately 8-10 hours/week including meetings. Attendance in class meetings and individual meetings with the instructor is mandatory, and these will be determined in accordance with student schedules.

Activities will vary according to the student’s work and interests but might involve conducting research and writing for publications, creating content for social media, conducting interviews, organizing and attending events and meetings, preparing strategies for public health awareness, etc.

There will be periodic assignments over the semester to keep students on track to completing a successful research project related to their work with their community mentor. The nature of these assignments will vary according to the project.

Prerequisites: MDHM 201, one other humanities or medical humanities course

For additional information, please contact Dr. Melissa Bailar.

How to enroll in the practicum

Students will meet as a group periodically throughout the semester to share their work and discuss research and presentation strategies. Students will also meet individually to go over aspects of their individual projects. The timing of these meetings will be settled at the end of the Fall 2022 semester in accordance with student schedules.

Email Dr. Bailar at to set a time to discuss your interest in taking this course in Spring 2023. Students will not be able to register until they have met with Dr. Bailar. Meetings must take place before the end of the Fall 2022 classes (before exams).

Once you have been matched with a project, Dr. Bailar will be in touch to submit the registration override so that you may register for MDHM430.

Please direct questions about these practicum options to Dr. Melissa Bailar.

Sample Practicum Options Spring 2023 and Instructions for Proposing an Independent Project

Día de la Mujer Latina

Día de la Mujer Latina
Students in this practicum will conduct research into healthcare disparities in Houston’s Latina population and work with the organization’s director and other staff members to develop strategies to improve access to healthcare, disseminate information about screenings and vaccinations, dispel misinformation, and inform healthcare professionals about the specific needs and concerns of this population. Much of the work will be focused on Community Healthcare Workers, and there may be options for students to receive certification as a CHW. Please note that this option requires set hours on-site determined by the director – these hours may not be feasible with your course schedule, so please consider additional options. The organization’s director will select students after reviewing their credentials and an informal online interview.

Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA)

Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA)
Students will conduct research into health and medicine among Houston’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as part of Rice’s HAAA project under the direction of Dr. Anne Chao. Students do not need to know a precise area of research in advance but should have a couple of ideas of general areas that interest them. Previous projects have addressed mental health stigmas and obstacles to mental health services, the integration of Eastern and Western medical practices, and biracial identity formation, and HAAA includes oral histories and materials about anti-Asian racism during the Covid pandemic. Students will begin by discussing their ideas with Dr. Chao and other members of the HAAA team, complete a literature review, design a research strategy to learn about personal experiences with the topic (such as a survey, interviews, or site visits), and execute the project and present it. Depending on their research design, Independent Review Board (IRB) approval may be required, and the practicum instructor will guide students through this process. This practicum may be taken for one or two semesters.

Institute for Spirituality and Health

Institute for Spirituality and Health
Selected students will meet weekly with the Vice President of the Institute, Stuart Nelson, to develop their own research projects at the intersection of spirituality or religion and health or illness. Students will join groups or connect with other experts who will aid in the development of their research. Past projects have ranged from co-composing soundscapes with members of a bereavement group, to conducting surveys with family caregivers of cancer patients, to creating a graphic memoir based on personal experience and interviews with patients and doctors about scarring. The practicum has three phases over the course of a semester: first, to conduct a literature review in the topic area; second, to develop a research plan and takeaway project in consultation with experts; and third, to execute and present the research project. Students do not need to know a precise area of research in advance but should have a couple of ideas of general areas that interest them. This is designed as a one-semester practicum.

Radiation Effects and Events

Selected students will work with Dr. Armin Weinberg (, faculty at Semey Medical University in Kazakhstan, librarians at the Texas Medical Center Library’s archives, and other individuals who have studied the health, social, political, and personal effects of radiation exposure from nuclear bombs (including their extensive testing in Kazakhstan), nuclear accidents, and nuclear waste. Depending on the status with Russia and the Ukraine, students may talk with researchers there as well to learn about different approaches to medical treatment and obstacles to effective care. Students will assist with research into international medical partnerships; conduct interviews for the archive on radiation effects and events; work with authors on editing essays for journal publications; and/or other research-related tasks. Students will have the opportunity to talk and work with a range of experts from the U.S., Kazakhstan, Japan, and elsewhere. Students must have prior research experience in any discipline, strong organizational and time-management skills, and professional communication proficiency. This practicum may be taken for one or two semesters.

Texas Medical History

Students in this practicum will complete a published entry for an online encyclopedia, The Handbook of Texas Medicine. Students may select a topic that has been identified as a priority for the handbook or may suggest a new one. Topics include the histories of hospitals and clinics (including those with non-Western approaches), health organizations, medical journals, remedies, and individual healthcare professionals. Of particular interest now are histories of organizations providing healthcare and support to Texas’s LGBTQ+ population as well as healthcare legislation. They will meet with the head of the Texas Medical Center Library’s archives to learn archival research skills and will conduct research in the archives as needed throughout the semester. In addition, students will meet with the Executive Director of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), Dr. Heather Wooten, to learn about the Handbook and strategies for writing medical histories, and with the Handbook of Texas’ Managing Editor, Dr. Brett Derbes to learn about the importance and challenges of online reference works. Students will meet as needed with other community members who can contribute insights to their topics. Students must have strong writing and time management skills. This is designed as a one-semester practicum, but students may take it a second semester to complete another entry.

Independent Project

Students may propose a practicum if they have made arrangements to work with an organization, hospital, or individual and will conduct research that relates to medical humanities (in terms of both methods and questions). The proposed practicum must include work with individuals outside of Rice for at least some of the time and have an experiential learning component. Students should expect to spend 8-10 hours a week on the work and reflective aspects of the practicum (the equivalent of 3 credit hours in an upper-level course), in addition to regular class meetings and meetings with the instructor.

Note that a practicum is not an internship (though an internship can form the basis for a practicum): the Rice faculty member teaching the course assigns the grade based on participation in the class, progress on research shared regularly with the instructor, satisfactory completion of assignments, and the quality of medical humanities research. The instructor may seek input from the community mentor, but this will not be the primary factor in the grade.

To apply, contact Dr. Bailar ( to set a meeting time during the fall 2022 semester (before final exams) and submit the following materials to her at least two weeks before the spring semester begins:

To apply, please submit the following materials:

1. Description of the proposed practicum and its experiential learning aspects.

2. Description of a reflective research project related to the practicum. The amount of work produced should be equivalent to that of a 300 or 400-level semester-long course. For example, if students plan to volunteer with a community organization, they might create a weekly blog about their experiences and what they indicate about healthcare, an oral history collection, or cultural competency training materials, to name a few examples.

3. Timeline for completing the project over one or two semesters. It should be clear what students will be doing on at least a biweekly basis. Generally, practicums should require an average of 10 hours per week, including work with the community partner, the reflective component, and the weekly meeting.

4. Brief letter or email from the community organization indicating they agree to work with you, the time commitment expected from you, that you will learn about aspects of health and/or medicine during your time with them, and that someone at the organization will serve as your mentor whom Rice faculty may contact for updates and evaluations.