Marcia Childress

Marcia Childress


Marcia Day Childress, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities)
Director, Programs in Humanities
(434) 924.5974 •

Marcia Day Childress directs Programs in Humanities within the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities. In this role, she oversees elective courses in humanities disciplines and other educational programming in medical humanities. She also directs the Medical Center Hour, the School of Medicine's weekly public forum on medicine and society.

Professor Childress teaches medical school courses in Literature and Medicine, Images of Medicine, and Cells to Society, and directs senior medical students' independent research projects 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, in the Department of English.

Her research interests include narrative in medicine, interprofessional learning, reflective education and the moral formation of the physician, and uses of the literary, visual, and dramatic arts in medical education and preparation for professional life (including faculty development). In spring 2011, she held a research fellowship at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Bioethics, University of Muenster, Germany. She writes on literature and the role of narrative and the arts in medicine, ethics, medical education, and end-of-life care. Recent publications and presentations focus on Virginia Woolf’s illness experience and metaphoric language, the short plays of Samuel Beckett, the poetry of Donald Hall, the paintings of Ferdinand Hodler, and teaching literature with professional students.

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 served as chair of the university's Faculty Senate, chair of two Senate standing committees and chair of the President's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns. In 2009, she received UVA's Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award, presented by the Women's Center. Within the School of Medicine, Professor Childress sits on the Faculty Development Advisory Committee, the Committee on Women, the Medical Education Advisory Committee, and the Cultural Competency Advisory Committee, and chairs the committee that annually selects faculty, residents, and students for humanism in medicine awards. Her service to the profession includes consulting for the American Board of Internal Medicine, judging the Gold Foundation's annual national medical student essay contest, and reviewing for the Bellevue Literary Review and UVA's own on-line journal, Hospital Drive.

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 her dissertation on Virginia Woolf).