Marcia Childress

Marcia Day Childress

Professor Emerita of Medical Education (Health Humanities), Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita

Center for Health Humanities and Ethics
School of Medicine
5th floor, Collins Building, West Complex, Hospital Drive
Office Hours: By appointment.

20th C British, Medical/Health Humanities, Narrative Medicine


Ph.D. English Literature, University of Virginia, 1996
M.A. English Literature, University of Virginia, 1976
B.A. English Literature, Michigan State University, 1970


Marcia Day Childress is Professor Emerita of Medical Education and Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita in the School of Medicine. For twenty-five years (1996-2021), she directed Programs in Humanities in the Center for Health Humanities and Ethics, including humanities and arts courses and co-curricular activities for medical students. During those same years, she directed and produced the Medical Center Hour, the School of Medicine’s weekly public forum on medicine, society, and healthcare.
A literature scholar by training, Professor Childress led medical school courses in Literature and Medicine: A Narrative Medicine Toolkit and Images of Medicine, directed student research in humanities and the arts, and oversaw humanities elective courses for medical students. She co-developed and co-leads Clinician’s Eye, an art museum-based visual analysis workshop for health professionals. She and a law professor have led an Interprofessional Seminar in Ethical Values and Professional Life for medical and law students for more than twenty years. For ten years (2007-2017), she taught the undergraduate English course, Narratives of Illness and Doctoring, and, on a case-by-case basis, she has worked with English graduate and creative writing students. Across her career at UVA, she developed and led many special programs and public events featuring humanities and arts in relation to health, healthcare, and health professional education.
Professor Childress's interests include literature and medicine, narrative medicine, the moral formation of the physician, and uses of the arts in professional education. She has written and presented on Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett’s short plays, and the art museum as a health humanities learning lab.
She was twice a research fellow-in-residence at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Bioethics, University of Münster, Germany. At UVA, she has been a faculty fellow of the Center for Global Health Equity and the School of Architecture’s Center for Design and Health and a member of the Law School's teaching faculty.
A member of the medical school's Academy of Excellence in Education, Professor Childress received a dean's teaching award and the medical school's David A. Harrison III Distinguished Educator Award. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, UVA's Raven Society, and the national medical honor societies Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Long active in university service, 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.