Marcia Childress

Marcia D. Childress

Professor Emerita of Medical Education (Medical Humanities), University of Virginia
Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita, UVA School of Medicine
(434) 227-0778

Marcia Day Childress, who has co-led a Seminar in Ethical Values for law and medical students since 2002, is professor emerita of medical education and Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita in the School of Medicine. From 1996 to 2021, she directed programs in humanities in the Center for Health Humanities and Ethics, including humanities and arts courses, and activities for medical students. Those same years, she directed and produced the “Medical Center Hour,” the School of Medicine’s weekly public forum on medicine, society and health care, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2020-21.

A literature scholar, Childress designed and taught the medical school courses Literature and Medicine, and Images of Medicine; directed student research in humanities and the arts; and oversaw humanities courses for medical students. From 2007-17, she taught the course Narratives of Illness and Doctoring in the Department of English. In 2013, Childress co-developed Clinician’s Eye, an art museum-based visual analysis workshop for health professionals. Within and beyond the medical school, she created numerous special programs, interprofessional conferences and public events featuring humanities and arts in relation to health, health care and professional education.

Her scholarly interests have included narrative medicine, reflective education for professionals, the moral formation of the physician, interprofessional learning, and uses of the arts and humanities in preparation for professional practice. She writes and consults on the literary, dramatic and visual arts in medicine, ethics, medical education and end-of-life care. She has twice been a research fellow at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Bioethics at the University of Münster in Germany. She is a docent with UVA’s Fralin Museum of Art.

Childress is charter member of the Medical School’s Academy of Excellence in Education and received a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the David A. Harrison Distinguished Educator Award for lifetime achievement. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the Raven Society at UVA, and the national medical honor societies Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She chaired the UVA Faculty Senate and the President’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns. In 2009, she received UVA’s Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award.

Childress holds degrees in English literature from Michigan State University and the University of Virginia.