*About this blog

On Creativity in Healthcare…

This blog serves as a platform for my passionate interest in integrating creativity and the creative process (the arts) into healthcare, particularly, in the care of patients/clients. I encourage and invite you to write your comments and ideas in creating a more humanistic healthcare environment. By providing this format,  I hope and believe it will spark a movement in incorporating creativity as another form of treatment and service in patient care.

Our current healthcare system focuses on treating and curing the physical body with very little attention to the spiritual and emotional realms. We are not just physical beings – we are multi-dimensional beings with body, mind, soul and emotional levels. By encouraging patients, families and healthcare professionals to participate in creative activities, it promotes healing on all four levels: physical-cognitive-spiritual-emotional.

The nursing and medical professions are theorized to be “an art and science,” which I believe to be true.  However, the focus of healing the sick has been based on the sciences, and the ‘art’ or spiritual component forgotten or close to non-existant.  It’s time to bring back the ‘art’ of healing the sick. The ‘art’ and ‘science’  in nursing and medicine can coexist harmoniously, balancing and enhancing each other in creative harmony.

Integrating Creativity in Healthcare  – what does this mean?

First of all, I believe everyone is creative; creativity is fundamental to human existence.  The means of expressing your creativeness may be in the form of writing, painting, poetry, sculpture, photography, gardening, cooking, composing music, playing music, dance, acting, and the list goes on.

My ideas for incorporating creativity/creative process/arts in healthcare are not new.  There are many fine hospital systems throughout the United States and a few European countries that have some form of an arts program.

Incorporating the arts in healthcare can be as simple as having a small art gallery for patients, families, and visitors to see.  Creative organizations can incorporate artist-in-residents to work with patients and families, creating art at the bedside in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Establish healing gardens on the grounds for patients, visitors and healthcare  professionals to visit so they can reflect, soothe their eyes, and quiet their souls.

What about incorporating humor into healthcare by sheduling stand-up comics?  We could all use some laughter in our lives.  Norman Cousins wrote in his book (Anatomy of Illness as Perceived by the Patient) that 10 minutes of deep laughter gave him pain-free sleep for hours.

Why not have an art gallery with rotating exhibits of work created by patients and families, healthcare staff, local professional artists…the exhibits can include poetry, paintings, photography, sculpture, handmade books and journals, ceramics, handcrafted works of art, etc.

Musicians can be scheduled to play on ICUs, neonatal ICUs, outpatient cancer treatment units, bone marrow transplant units, dialysis centers…you get the drift.  There are numerous research articles on the benefits of listening to music.

Please read the page listed under Topics on “The Science Supporting Creativity.”  It gives some supporting data on the benefits of creativity and the arts.  But the question (rhetorical) arises, does everything in healthcare need scientific data in order to implement an idea or concept that is good for patients, families, healthcare professionals and local communities?

Some things about me: 
I am an artist and registered nurse.  My nursing career began with critical care nursing which eventually led into management and entrepreneurial quests in healthcare.  Being an adventurous spirit and wanting a change from healthcare, I tried my hand in the apparel industry in 2001, working in sales for an international apparel company.  Little did I know at the time, that was the wrong business for me!

I discovered my 2nd career as an artist in 2002, after getting laid off from the apparel industry. I am a firm believer in the healing benefits of engaging in creative work and the arts – as a nurse and artist.  There is no doubt in my mind that creativity (creative process, the arts) needs to be integrated into the care of people, and the healthcare system.

My academic studies include an RN from Muhlenberg School of Nursing, and MPA with concentration in healthcare administration from Rutgers University.  To improve and challenge my artistic skills, techniques and experimentation, I enroll in sculpture, painting, stained glass, textile classes and workshops.

As an artist, my work integrates art with science, nature and medicine.  For images of my ongoing series, visit http://www.martihand.com.

Email me…I would love to hear from you!  martihand1@gmail.com

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