- Aimee Burke Valeras, PhD, LICSW, Faculty and Behavioral Health Clinician, NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency and Concord Hospital Family Health Center, Concord, NH
Being on the frontlines of a pandemic has forced us to stare straight at mortality – our patients and our own. We have been single-mindedly focused on the task at hand, doing what needs to be done while instinctually suppressing and containing our emotional response, at great cost to any semblance of work-life balance. In healthcare, medical providers and behavioral health staff are conditioned to consider their own needs and emotions last, and the ability to sustain emotional and physical stamina for the sake of patient care has been significantly challenged. It has never been more necessary or timely to create space to address the warning signs of COVID sequela in our workforce and engage with the arts to allow for reflection, meaning-making, and honoring each other’s experiences, thoughts, emotions, and reactions. This presentation will highlight two hospital-based art exhibits, one in a suburban New England hospital and one in an urban Chicago hospital. The multi-disciplinary engagement, the range of art forms utilized, and outcomes based on qualitative analysis of participant and audience feedback will be included. A selection of these creative works will be used to guide participants through a narrative experience of processing memories and physical or emotional reactions that emerge. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the challenges to creating a space for art in a fast-paced, profit-driven, reactionary culture, as well as the benefits and opportunities inherent in the process of artistically expressing what seems inaccessible and difficult to put words to. Participants will ultimately be able to draw from this experience to brainstorm strategies to integrate the arts into their own lives and healthcare community.
- identify how engaging in the arts offers an opportunity to discuss the undiscussable, develop self-reflection skills, and make meaning
- describe how two art exhibit processes were used during the COVID-19 pandemic and their results, including increased sense of community and resilience
- discuss systemic challenges to creating space for an art exhibit in their home healthcare settings