Arts in Health Care Program at Shand Medical Center, FL…


A number of years ago when I first read about integrating the art in healthcare, I read the story how the arts program at Shand Hospital, University of Florida, got started.

Now, there are a number of comprehensive art programs throughout the US, but the AIM Program at Shand Hospital is one of the first I read about and piqued my interest in incorporating creativity into patient care.

The Arts in Medicine (AIM) Program at Shand Hospital started with a dream by a nurse-visual artist, Mary Rockwood Lane, and physician-poet,  John Graham-Pole.  For Mary, the desire to incorporate art-making directly into patient care stems from her personal experience of healing through engaging in the creative process – painting in her case.  She states in one of her articles, “The creative process transformed my life. It was not a 1-hour-per-week visit to a health provider.”  In her case, it was engaging in the creative process that helped her heal, and is the primary topic and purpose of this blog.  Because she is a nurse, she felt compelled to bring the healing power of art to others, i.e, patients.  I, too, am compelled and driven to do the same – to bring the creative process directly to patients, families and healthcare staff.  The physician, John Graham-Pole, had the vision of artists working with students at the medical school. 

Focus now on present day…Shand’s AIM has visual artist-in-residence, musician-in-residence, dancer-in-residence, story teller-in-residence, and a theatre troupe-in-residence.  AIM has become part of the hospital’s infrastructure and mission.  The artists-in-residence work in a variety of units: the BMT unit, pediatric intensive care, diabetic adolescent unit, psychiatry, autistic  children, general oncology, medicine, gynecology, surgery, and mother-baby.

AIM at Shand’s Hospital is a shared vision between artists and nurses..the program is deeply integrated to nursing care, and the nurses are key participants in the program.  Nurses and physicians write prescriptions for creative interventions (art) just like writing a prescription for another treatment, activity or medication.  According to Mary Rockwood Lane, “the art is part of the nurse’s healing modalities in meeting patient outcomes.”  Nurses are the catalysts to help patients and families embrace creative expression in health care settings, and needs to incorporate creative interventions into patient/family care.

To learn more about the Arts in Medicine Program at Shand Hospital, do an internet search…there’s alot of information out there.

Here are excerpts from articles written by Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, PhD:

“…the hospital feels more sensitive, more caring, as a result of this art.”

“The creative process transformed my life…because I was a nurse, I felt compelled to bring the healing power of art to others, to initiate a new program, and to seek out professional allies and build clinically based liaisons.  I believed that, as a nurse, I could reach out and help others.”

“Creative Interventions have been shown to shorten hospital stays and decrease the use of pain medication dramatically.”

“Performances of music, dance, poetry, and theater are put on in the hospital lobby.  Patients are brought from their rooms, and families and staff stop; the music draws people toward its transformational power.  Patients, family, and staff alike leave relaxed and uplifted; they are changed and healed.”

“Patients who are visited by the AIM artists say their whole experience of being ill is changed forever.  They are more hopeful, happier, feel better, and have less pain.  This is true even if the patients do not engage in creative activities themselves but just watch the artists.”

Here are excerpts from an article written by John Graham-Pole, MD:

“The past decade has confirmed my belief that art plays a central role in serving the sick and the overtly healthy among us.  This marriage – the unifying of art and science in medicine – is a present and much needed reality.  It offers a lasting antidote to the epidemic dis-ease of body, mind and spirit…it is no accident we use the word art to describe both the creating of works of beautiful form and the providing of skilled compassionate care.  Art ta[s, for each of us, whatever our circumstances, a deep well of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  It is indispensable to our lives, and to our total health.  Where more apt to invest in it and ensure its flowering than in our nation’s hospitals?”

Although both health care profesionals cited above have written many articles, the excepts are from 2 articles…email me if you’d like the references. Read again the “Science Supporting Creativity in Healthcare” located under Topics in the left sidebar of this blog.

And now…


“If you limit your choices to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” ~robert fritz

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