Creative Arts in Humane Medicine:
A resource book that touches the heart of what it is to be human
Cheryl L. McLean writes: Humanistic medicine is a growing trend as more medical professionals integrate the arts into their practice to improve communication with patients and build better relationships. Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, (ed., Cheryl L. McLean, Brush Education) is a resource book for medical educators, practitioners, and students interested in effectively using the arts in medical education and practice to foster a more caring, empathic approach.
The collection is divided into four sections, “Educating for Empathy through the Arts”; Section 2, “The Arts in Medicine and Practitioner Self Care”; Section 3, “Navigating with Narrative Through Life Experience”; and Section 4, “The Creative Arts in Action for Change in Health”.
This post will present a few highlights from each of these sections.
The book opens with special attention paid to the overriding theme that resonates in this collection, that of care and fostering empathy . André Smith and his research team at The Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, demonstrates an innovative pedagogical approach using fabric art for teaching empathy to end-of-life health care providers. Similarly, in my own article that follows, I share the process of creating an ethnodrama to raise awareness about aging, mental health and autonomy and discuss how writing and creating an educational performance based on research led to greater caregiver empathy and human understanding.
Section 2 shows how the arts can help address practitioner self care needs while providing opportunities for understanding, healing and self expression. Alim Nagji MD, at The University of Alberta, who is also an actor, producer and writer, stresses that using theatre to help teach medical students to understand their patients’ stories can help foster empathy. Maura McIntyre at The Centre for Arts Informed Research, University of Toronto, has used theatre in her arts informed research and compellingly demonstrates through text and with script examples how reader’s theatre helps caregivers experience real stories of nursing home life. Rachael Allen, an Artist in Residence (AIR) at university anatomy and clinical skills laboratories at Newcastle, Durham and Northumbria Universities is an artist who has witnessed students engaged in educational lab work with prepared prosections of embalmed and plastinated specimens. Allen believes it is fundamentally important for health and humane medicine that students are offered opportunities to express and make sense of these intimate human encounters through arts processes.
Each of the contributors in section 3 of this book approach narrative and medicine in uniquely different ways, however, all writers share in common an underlying belief that humanity and dignity can be found through fostering the practitioner patient relationship. Jasna Schwind, a nurse educator and Associate Professor at Ryerson University, reports on her work informed by narrative inquiry while sharing her own illness story. Narrative and poetic inquirer John J. Guiney Yallop, from Acadia University, writes about his lived experiences with medical practitioners and, in so doing, poignantly illustrates the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient. Catherine L. Mah, MD, FRCPC, PhD a scientist, practitioner and researcher, University of Toronto, discusses in her article the uses of literature and the childhood novel in pediatrics practice suggesting the approach may help establish a foundation for narrative examination in the one on one interview.
In the closing section of this book there is an emphasis on using the arts in action for change in health. Louise Younie, a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry writes about her journey of discovery through arts based inquiry and considers the transformative influences of the arts in medical education as well as within her own work. Bandy X. Lee MD at Yale University argues that for humane medicine to be realized there is also a critical need for collective and emotional healing. She proposes effective violence prevention may be one of the keys to change for societal health, human flourishing and creativity.
Creative Arts in Humane Medicine is a resource book featuring research, detailed accounts and real life examples of the arts in action in medical education and practice. The book informs and educates while touching the heart of what it is to be human, each article unfolding in its way as a story, a revealing performance about life, a creative act within itself.
Editor, Cheryl L. McLean is Publisher of The International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice IJCAIP. Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, will be released in October 2013 and will be available in both hard copy and ebook formats. For further information about this book please contact the Editor directly.