To provide a resource drawing on the visual, literary and listening arts to observe, understand and empathize with the experience of illness.
To foster a community of artists, physicians, students and patients committed to healing through the intersection of art and medicine.
A cadre of physicians and other health practitioners, mostly educators in medical schools, believe in the healing power of the arts. Many of these clinicians find ways of incorporating the arts into their practice. Although hard evidence is lacking, the arts can be used to improve clinical observation, deepen the doctor-patient relationship and prevent physician burnout. Playing music for and with patients, listening to and re-telling stories, and spending time looking at art all have a role in teaching medical trainees and caring for patients.
Over the years, I have gathered a rich web-based repertoire of primary arts materials from which physicians and students can draw. This repository of visual, auditory and narrative art covers many relevant topics—from learning anatomy to patients’ experience of illness to challenges faced at the end of life.
Many of the works included in the site are the result of personal relationships I’ve cultivated with artists around a mutual interest in medicine. I have connected with musicians, photographers, poets and storytellers, all of whom have generously allowed me to share their work on this site.
Many of the features on the website address common clinical scenarios. So, for example, I’ve included in my website my colleague Heike Bailin’s humorous ruminations on caring for challenging patients. Just as often, or more often, I offer to users of this site the patient perspective
While most medical journals provide a space for reflective writing, and some feature visual art, the pieces they publish must conform to each journal’s didactic agenda. The “Interacting with the arts in medicine” website celebrates a more open-ended approach to the arts and their application. Most features begin with a series of questions I have asked to challenge the user. Each visitor must decide how he or she wishes to engage with the site’s resources: for entertainment, to share with a patient, to pass on to a student, or to help mend a personal wound.
Some sections of the site are still being built. The visitor is invited to offer feedback, connections and additional materials or ideas. I hope you will enjoy browsing the site and finding stories, poems or images that resonate with you.