Creative Arts

The creative arts can relate to many forms of the arts embodied in action and practice among them (but not restricted to) drama, dance and musical performance, visual arts, writing, publishing, graphic arts, cartooning, film, multi media and design.

In Humane

To be humane is to have or show compassion or benevolence.

Being concerned with the alleviation of suffering.

To interact with care, consideration and respect.


the word medicine is from the Latin ars medicina, meaning the art of healing.

Broadly speaking the practice of medicine is to be

active in the prevention and treatment of illness.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Arts Alive and Thriving in Medical Education

C. L. McLean, Publisher IJCAIP

It has been reported that the use of arts and humanities in medical education may help develop observational skills and enhance understanding of the human condition. Programs integrating the arts and humanities in medical education continue to flourish and gain momentum with leading medical schools and universities offering programming such as Stanford School of Medicine, Arts, Humanities and Medicine, established to “promote creative and scholarly work at the intersections between the arts, humanities and medicine in order to enhance understanding of the contextual meanings of illness, healthcare, and the human condition”,  and The Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham with a research programme organized around five research clusters,  Imagination and Creativity; Practice and Practitioner; Policy Politics Collective; Transfiguring and Mind Body Affect.


In Canada, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Humanities in Medicine, offers five core initiatives: History of Medicine; Narrative Medicine (oral storytelling film, mass media, and literature); Music; Spirituality; and Visual Arts. The Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine Program at the University of Alberta was launched in May 2006. The program is directed to engendering a balance of scientific knowledge and compassionate care with a mission statement that formally acknowledges “the explicit recognition within the Faculty that clinical practice is both an art and a science.”

The arts are alive and thriving in arts and health and medical education today, offering opportunities for learning and a place for self expression and healing. A leader in the field of Narrative Medicine, Dr. Rita Charon, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University has long advocated for the use of narrative in medical education to honour stories of illness. Dr. Arthur Frank, Professor of Sociology, University of Calgary, and author of “The Wounded Storyteller, Body, Illness and Ethics”, writes about the meaningful uses of storytelling for those experiencing illness, “The personal issue of telling stories about illness is to give voice to the body, so the changed body can become once again familiar in these stories.”

In issue 8 of IJCAIP Journal, IJCAIP,, "Physicians Speak Out About Arts in Medicine" we offered physicians a place to voice their stories and share how they use the arts in education.

Our featured article “Stories and Society, Using Literature to Teach Medical Students About Public Health and Social Justice,” was contributed by Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Community Health, Portland State University and Senior Physician of Internal Medicine at The Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Centre. Donohoe offered an argument for “enhancing public health education of medical students through the use of literature with the goal of creating activist physicians knowledgeable about, and eager to confront, the social, economic and cultural contributions to illness”. In addition, he generously provided an extensive list of books, articles and resources. A follow up commentary by Dr. Jay Rosenfield, MD, MEd, FRCPC, Vice-Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, stressed the need for continuing research to examine the use of literature and story in medical education further, particularly when linked to advocacy and health of populations and patient outcomes.

Maureen Rappaport MD, FCCFP, is a family doctor who splits her time between working in a busy community practice in Montreal , Quebec, and teaching family medicine residents and medical students. In the article, “The Poetry of Practice” she wrote about the creative writing course she teaches as an elective to fourth year medical students at McGill University, a course that provides an important place for students to express their feelings through narratives and poetry.

Physician and Educator Pippa Hall MD, CCFP, MEd, FCFP, at The University of Ottawa, has been a palliative care physician for over ten years. She has integrated arts into learning activities for pre-licensure students and in post graduate programs as well as in continuing professional development activities in nursing and spiritual care. She explained how she found the arts in many forms provided opportunities for learning while offering new insights into the human condition.

Seema Shah, MD, MSPH, reported on a unique perspective as both a physician and patient who has experienced chronic illness. Working with The University of British Columbia Community Partnerships for Health Professional Education Initiative, she explained how she has facilitated group sessions using literature and story to help teach students about the lived experience of illness.

Our closing commentary explored the exciting potential for other innovative and creative technologies incorporated into teaching and medical education. Kim Bullock, MD, family medicine and emergency room physician, and Director of the Community Health Division and Assistant Director of Service Learning in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University, Medical Centre, Washington, believes digital storytelling in medical education has the potential to “link the social, environmental, and historical issues that influence health and illness through graphics”. “What emerges,” she writes, “are voices from the community that bear witness to issues that influence health including problems related to the environment, housing, public safety violence, inequities ..”

The voices represented in this issue of IJCAIP spoke about progressive approaches to learning that have the potential to offer hope and change in education and in healthcare practice. There may yet be questions to be answered but, given the space, there will always be stories to tell and those who will witness, learn and be transformed.

In addition to editing two books in the CAIP Research Series, "Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice" and "Creative Arts in Research for Community and Cultural Change" published by Detselig Temeron Press, now Brush Educational Publishing, Calgary, Cheryl McLean is also editor of the upcoming book, "Creative Arts in Humane Medicine" to be published in 2013.

Cheryl McLean, Executive Editor, Publisher
The International Journal of The Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice
Editor, CAIP Research Series, "Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice" and "Creative Arts in Research for Community and Cultural Change" Detselig Temeron Press, Calgary
New text, "Creative Arts in Humane Medicine" scheduled for release 2013.