Quarterly Student View - WINTER 2011
School: Maryland Institute College of Art
Major: Art Education
Graduation Year: 2011
Degree: Master of Arts in Teaching
Arts in healthcare-related internships or volunteer experience:
Co-Founder/Art Instructor—Hope Through Art, an art program for patients and families treated on the Pediatric Oncology unit at The Johns Hopkins Children's Center. A collaboration with Oncology Social Work. (June 2010 - present)
Art Instructor—Art with a Heart, Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, Baltimore, MD. (February - December 2010)
Art Instructor—Alan B. Pearson Center for Cancer, Lynchburg, VA. Taught a workshop on journaling through collage. (January 2010)
Art Instructor—Alan B. Pearson Center for Cancer, Lynchburg, VA.
Taught painting workshops titled "The Art of Healing: Therapeutic Reflections in Watercolor." Partnered with Social Work. (July 2009)
What inspired you to pursue studies in the field of arts in healthcare?
I found healing through my artwork during my fourth year at the University of Virginia. For my senior thesis, I created a series of paintings in response to a previous injury, and they became images of faith, beauty, and healing. I found inspiration in the work of Karen Shea, an artist from Charlottesville, VA. I looked forward to meeting her, but learned that she had died from cancer several years before. Moved by her story, I taught painting workshops about pain and healing in her honor at the cancer center in my hometown, and over 120 people, including patients, families, and staff, participated. It was a profound experience to witness children and adults of all ages discovering their creativity, delighting in paint, and openly sharing their experiences with cancer. Upon moving to Baltimore, I explored options for teaching again in a hospital setting. Last spring, I began assisting and teaching twice a month at Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital through a local non-profit called Art with a Heart. This past summer, I started a program called Hope through Art with the goal to empower cancer patients and their families at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. I worked with Kathleen Orr, the Senior Clinical Social Worker, to secure funding and establish the program, which was tremendously successful. I then joined MICA's volunteer organization, Community Arts Partnership, to continue teaching for the fall semester and to establish the Pediatric Oncology unit as a volunteer site. Additional students have volunteered to continue this program for the upcoming semester.
What are your professional aspirations in arts in healthcare?
I will graduate in May and would like nothing more than to coordinate an arts program for a hospital in which I could teach individual and group art classes, manage exhibitions, train volunteers, and connect artists in the community with the hospital to create a healing environment. I have enjoyed collaborating with social workers, and would like to partner with other healthcare professionals to expand the arts in the healthcare setting.
What value do you see in being a member of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare to meet your educational and professional goals?
I have admired the organization for quite some time and found the website to be an excellent resource as I started this program at The Johns Hopkins Children's Center. As a new member, I look forward to connecting with others while I continue to learn more about the field. It is inspiring to learn how students and professionals incorporate the arts into healthcare settings across the country and around the world.
What advice would you give to other students considering a career in the arts in healthcare field?
Connect—Talk to professionals in the field. Shadow someone working in a position that interests you. Join the Society for the Arts in Healthcare to learn as much as you can about successful programs and connect with professionals. Explore options for funding.
Get involved—Consider how you can use your skills to volunteer at a hospital or other healthcare facility in your area. Contact social workers and child life specialists; collaboration is key in this field. Be flexible and eager to learn. Teach a workshop or partner with a support group to gain experience. For those studying medicine or nursing, consider ways to integrate the arts into your practice, such as partnering with art students and community artists.
Dream—If it's your passion, then pursue it. The possibilities for integrating the arts into healthcare facilities are endless. Through art you can connect deeply with others and bring them healing and hope.
What keeps you motivated to do the work you do?
I have witnessed the tremendous benefits art can have for people facing life-threatening illnesses. At The Johns Hopkins Children's Center, I have had the privilege of working closely with both patients and parents and have seen how art is healing for both groups. Art improves communication among patients, families, and healthcare professionals. Art provides relaxation, distraction from pain, and enjoyment. The act of creating is empowering, especially for someone who does not have control over what is happening to his or her body. Art is a catalyst for emotional healing and I see my work as a joyful endeavor.
What are your thoughts about the future of the field?
I believe the arts have the potential to transform healthcare on multiple levels. The field is expanding as more and more people recognize its value, and I hope in years to come we will see the arts integrated into most healthcare settings.
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