Engaging heARTS: Developing an arts-based curriculum to enhance compassion and creativity in healthcare

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Andrea Nadine Frolic
Marilyn Swinton
Darla Biccum
Marybeth Leis Druery
Megan English
Jennifer Molinaro


In 2014-15 Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), with supportive funding from the Ontario Arts Council, partnered with a local group of professional artists to develop a curriculum called Awakening Your Creative Power: a seminar series on creativity, compassion and play. In order to understand the feasibility and impact of this arts-based curriculum for healthcare personnel working within a hospital, HHS undertook a comprehensive program evaluation. Input from participants who attended the course was obtained in three ways: (1) weekly evaluation forms at the end of each session (2) a final evaluation that asked questions about the overall seminar series, and (3) a focus group discussion held 2 weeks after the seminar series ended.

This paper reports on the outcomes of the evaluation and the evolution of the curriculum over the past 3 years, including its impacts on both participants and the arts partners. The evaluation data demonstrate that the course was successful in meeting its stated objectives which include: enhancing interpersonal skills, fostering self-reflection, deepening compassion, cultivating resilience, recognizing creative potential, applying intention and coping with daily stresses through the power of play. In addition, the course also: increased self-awareness, fostered a sense of community, emphasized the value of creativity for its own sake, empowered participants, provided participants with a sense of accomplishment and made participants feel valued by the institution. The paper concludes with some reflections on the potential of engaging arts professionals in health professional education. 

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How to Cite
Frolic, A. N., Swinton, M., Biccum, D., Druery, M. L., English, M., & Molinaro, J. (2018). Engaging heARTS: Developing an arts-based curriculum to enhance compassion and creativity in healthcare. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.26443/ijwpc.v5i1.167
Congress 2017
Author Biography

Andrea Nadine Frolic, Hamilton Health Sciences

Director, Office of Clinical & Organizational Ethics

Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University