Tag Archives: arts in medicine

Stéphanie Benoît is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Ottawa

 

AiLi Wang is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Ottawa

 

What is medicine? It is much more than learning to diagnose and treat diseases. It has physical and mental components—factual and intuitive aspects. Its definition is complex and multi-factorial. Medicine is an art in all its forms.

Speaking of the arts… The Anatomy Colouring Book was a project first envisioned by Dr. Alireza Jalali as a way for medical students to study anatomy creatively. Stéphanie and AiLi, two medical students known for their interest in bridging science and the arts, were recruited and given an opportunity to re-imagine the human body as an œuvre d'art. They both worked during their first year of clerkship to develop drawings that would accurately capture the anatomical body as well as bring imagination and creativity to paper. Though challenging, the process of creating the illustrations was a way to pursue their passion for art while contributing to their peers’ learning opportunities. ...continue reading

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is a deputy editor at CMAJ

 

Health care professionals need to learn to do more to encourage self-expression in healing.

Watching Friday’s TEDMED session entitled ‘Weird and Wonderful’ I was humbled by talks by two non-medics who have done wonderful creative things that have vastly improved the lives of patients.

First up was Bob Carey. I had never heard of Bob Carey before – WHY had I never heard of Bob Carey before? – so I was surprised to see a middle-aged man standing on the TEDMED stage in a pink tutu and nothing else. He said, “I’m a commercial photographer …and I have been photographing myself for over 20 years as a form of self-therapy because that’s what I do; when things get hard I go take pictures of myself…and it’s a lot cheaper than real therapy...” He transforms himself through photography into something that he is ‘not’ and that helps him to get out of himself, he says. In 2003 his wife, Linda, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and Bob started to take pictures of himself wearing a pink tutu in beautiful landscapes. What started out as a way of expressing his inner discomfort and difficult feelings and sharing his wife’s experience, grew, through self-publication of a book, into the Tutu Project. ...continue reading

 

by Barbara Sibbald, Editor, News and Humanities, CMAJ

Educational standards for physicians in Ontario originally included eight roles. When these morphed into the CanMeds physician competency standards there were only seven. The one lost competency was ‘physician as person’, said Dr. Brian Hodges in a keynote to 120 attendees at the Creating Space IV Symposium in Ottawa, Apr 25–26.

Proponents of the medical humanities, a burgeoning movement aimed at restoring the art, to the art and science of medicine, is all about that lost role.

Hodges leads the AMS Phoenix Project, A Call to Caring, an initiative to rebalance the technical and compassionate dimensions of health care. “Phoenix is trying to leverage change in education and the health care system to balance compassion and technical components,” said Hodges, who is a professor in the faculties of medicine and education at the University of Toronto, Ont. AMS supports the Hannah History of Medicine Chairs, fellowships, innovative projects and scholarly endeavors (including the Creating Space IV Symposium).

Hodges was speaking to an audience of the converted at the symposium, which was associated with the Canadian conference on medical education, but raised extensive discussion when he asked whether the medical humanities makes a meaningful contribution to health care and improving the lives of patients and health care providers. The consensus seemed to be yes, but it could do so much more if it was embedded into core curriculum, instead of being an elective, which de facto has less importance and credibility.

Medical humanities must be a department, like the department of neuroscience or orthopedics, said Dr. Jeff Nisker, another keynote speaker. Nisker, a professor at Schulich School of Medicine and dentistry at Western University in London, Ont., said first year students should get 200 hours in humanities beginning in the first week.

At least two attendees seemed to doubt that humanities would ever gain a place in the core curriculum due to lack of funding and lack of will. “How do we get health professionals to come out and play?” asked Hartley Jafine, who uses theatre to teach communication and team work to health professionals.

Inserting medical humanities into the core curriculum undoubtedly presents challenges including, breaking down barriers to other faculties, improving pedagogy and developing a robust research agenda.

But it’s essential, said another keynote speaker, Alan Bleakley, an internationally recognized expert in medical education and humanities, otherwise, we’re “just playing around the edges and it’s bad luck to those who don’t take it up.” Bleakley started a core integrated medical humanities program at Plymouth University in the UK, and is now a professor of medical humanities at Falmouth University in Cornwall.

Humanities are necessary, said Bleakley, to help cope with symptoms such as the increase in errors, moral erosion and poor self-care. Sensibility lies at the core of Humanities. By this, Bleakley means how we use our senses and how we develop a sense of what is useful, ethical and what is pleasing or disturbing. “Medical students have been rendered insensible,” said Bleakly. “They can’t think or sense for themselves. They are told what they should pick up when they go on a ward round or in the classroom.”

“Why shouldn’t patients or students talk back to the system and say this isn’t right?” Bleakley tries to teach medical students to be dissenters, to provide other options.” He said the major role of medical humanities and the arts is, in Jerome Bruner’s words, to allow people to “traffic in human possibilities, rather than settled certainties.”

The two-day symposium also featured sessions on writing, reflection and curriculum, and brought the arts to participants through writer- and poet-in-resident activities as well as a field-trip to the National Gallery to explore visual thinking strategies.

Creating Space V Symposium will be held next Apr. 25–28, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia as an associated event with the Canadian Conference on Medical Education.