VCU Health has honed the power of the arts by incorporating creativity into health care. What started as an idea to aid in physical, mental and emotional recovery in 1986 from the late Murry N. DePillars, the former VCU dean of arts, has evolved into VCU Wellness Arts in Healthcare . Today, the particular department offers a variety of services to patients and team members, including art lessons, kinetic imaging, music therapy and theater.
The artistry program offers expanded over the years under the guidance associated with its director, Philip Muzi Branch, who became movie director in 2005, but provides longstanding ties with the particular university. He was born at the shuttered St. Philip Hospital, the medical school’s onetime facility for Black Richmond residents during the particular Jim Crow Era. Branch also secured his undergraduate and graduate degree in VCU School from the Arts. After working in arts education, he decided this individual wanted to bring art into the medical field.
“The hospital has three galleries here where we show work of local artists and regional artists, ” Branch says. “I had a show here with my artwork, and when I was taking the display down within 2005, the director told me he was leaving. ”
Department saw his opportunity plus decided in order to apply for the particular position. The previous director was able to recommend him for the job and the rest was history, Branch states.
For nearly 18 years, he has helped bridge the particular gap between arts plus health care through various resources. All of the art-based services offered in the department are intentional, and used to develop an unique approach to the healing process.
“The traditional medical model is a very reactive process, ” Branch says. “Our model in the particular arts is we want to be proactive. We try to educate the individuals and staff about self-care and holistic care, being engaged with the entire patient meaning physically, spiritually and intellectually. ” The department creates a proactive atmosphere that works to treat all levels of care by ensuring that five specific areas are becoming met.
First, a healing environment will be established in order to benefit associated with patients, wellness care workers and visitors by placing art throughout the buildings, exhibits in art galleries and hosting performances by local musicians in the lobby every Wednesday. Caring for the particular caregivers is usually highlighted via bonding plus resilience activities to create a better workspace. In turn, caregivers help guarantee patient needs are being met. Patient care by means of art instruction, music, and more is the main focus of the department. Research and education are the final areas the program tackles. Professionals continually conduct research to examine how the arts are affecting patients, and impacting the particular healing process. Then, the program presents opportunities for nursing personnel, doctors and other medical team members to learn about the benefits of artistry in health.
COVID-19 put a halt to the particular usual ways the department functions, but they adapted in any way they could. From customized buttons along with faces of staff so that patients can safely see behind masks to online mindfulness meditation sessions, the department creatively maintained its mission.
As of 2022, the particular department offers reintroduced solutions that were altered due to the pandemic, Branch says. Department members are usually once again able to fully provide artistic services to help in individual care.
Artistry Coordinator Alexis Shockley states that she was still able to visit sufferers during the pandemic but noticed a difference in her work. As the sole member of the particular art program, Shockley takes up any artwork related project. She helps select artwork for buildings, hosts art lessons with inpatients plus outpatients, within addition in order to staff members, and aids in cultural celebrations.
When working along with patients, Shockley will read their chart to gain background information plus speak with the patient about their interests. Each case is different, and some patients have certain limitations. Shockley relies on many different mediums including clay, watercolor, sewing, acrylic painting and making jewelry to help her cater to each affected person.
During the particular pandemic, her services took on a different meaning. “I was a lot of people’s only visitor because we had no site visitors for so long, ” Shockley says. “I found myself going to see individuals and they just wanted to talk, so I was the person in order to talk to with a little artwork on the side. Just a person to become there with them during a scary time. ”
The conventional medical model is a very reactive process. Our model in the arts is we would like to be proactive.
—Philip Muzi Department, Director associated with VCU Health Arts within Healthcare
Whether during the particular pandemic or now, the benefits of using art in patient treatment is definitely apparent and often immediate, Shockley says. “I’ve had patients exactly where I’ve gone into the particular room, the lights have been off and they’re laying down doing nothing, ” she says. “By the end associated with it, the particular curtains are open, the lights are on and family members are laughing. ”
The artwork experience not only assists build the better environment for the individual by shedding positivity yet also allows for patients in order to exercise freedom. “I always say that I’m the particular one person that comes in to the room where I let the affected person choose what they want, ” Shockley says. “They have a say in their treatment and they get to make a choice. They get to create something beautiful while they are here whether it’s for the long term to decorate their room, to make something with regard to a loved one or even just learn a new craft. ”
The benefits of art go beyond the patient, it also helps medical providers learn how to improve their own work. Creative investigator plus artist-in-residence at the VCU Division of Surgery, Sterling Hundley uses art to depict medical scenes for educational purposes.
“There was something very special about being able to see patterns, things that were happening and technologies that were getting used, ” Hundley states. “Seeing points where things were smooth and factors where there was friction and using creativeness to approach presenting solutions to some of those problems. ”
Hundley sits, observes and documents surgical procedures in their sketchbook to try plus understand how to enhance patient engagement and the overall interaction among the hospital and sufferers.
“There’s usually room regarding interjection of humanity and creativity, ” Hundley says. “Meeting the doctors plus seeing the particular practice, they’re immensely giving with their time and their care. There’s the lot that will falls in to the realm from the scientific method but there’s a lot of creativity that they have in order to introduce. ”
Semi Ryu, professor associated with kinetic image resolution at VCU Arts plus associate professor of internal medicine from VCU College of Medicine, who has introduced art as a form of medicine into the girl work.
In 2002, Ryu had the idea to integrate the particular creative way she expresses herself and weave it into her work within the healthcare field. “I was really interested in puppetry, and I was using a virtual puppet for the storytelling performance, ” Ryu says. “It can end up being really beneficial for the people in the community because I drew out my personal storytelling, I experienced emotional release and really released some kind of oppressive state of personally mediated by the virtual body. ”
Ryu took notice of the particular positive therapeutic benefits plus healing potential of using an avatar, so the girl decided in order to create one for patients. Controlling the avatar through their own motions, which are projected on a large screen, individuals can star as themselves or produce a different profile and setting for them to access virtually. Throughout the girl time with VCU, she has helped a multitude of people making use of virtual reality technology.
Patients in palliative care, such as cancer patients, use the virtual entire body to express their lives and feelings. While the character provides an outlet for them, this also helps analyze feasibility, abilities as well as the quality of life of each patient.
Whenever Ryu worked with older adults at the particular senior center, she saw how the avatar allowed them to talk about their childhood and traumatic experiences in an easier, safer way. “It really allowed them to open up plus tell a more personal narrative, ” Ryu states. “It ended up making all of them cry and having an emotional release. ”
Younger patients, this kind of as children struggling along with mental wellness, have also used the character to assist with their treatment. Patients associated with all ages with different ailments have all seen positive results thanks to Ryu’s creativity.
“If you discuss your negative experience using your own body it’s totally overwhelming, ” Ryu says. “It’s hard to open up, but the distancing effect can be key to the participant being in a safe space. … Instead of their very own bodily body, these people use the virtual entire body that can speak for themselves. ”
Apart from using an avatar, patients can benefit from other artistic expressions such as music. Melissa Owens along with three members associated with the songs therapy group work with patients who are referred by the medical and care team. As a board-certified music therapist, Owens is able to assess the particular patient plus establish a treatment plan that incorporates music to help the patient deal with a variety of their concerns.
“We are an unique field in that we are not teaching music per se, but we have been using songs as a medium in order to accomplish another goal, ” Owens states. “Being in the hospital can create a great offer of anxiety and stress. Our sufferers often need help coping along with the fact that they are within the medical center, they may possess received a new diagnosis or they may be dealing with a fear of a medical procedure. Our goals as music therapists is to help create the individual experience the best it may be given the circumstance. ”
Exactly what may appear to be a bedside musical performance is actually a carefully planned healing session. “The goal is certainly not to perform for the patient, the goal is to use our live music to bring about a positive change either in the patient’s psychological state or even their actual physical state, ” Owens says.
Owens and her teammates are professionals, trained within a number of instruments used to generate different musical moods. They manipulate the particular qualities of music, such as the tempo or volume, based on the particular patient response. A patient’s potential unfavorable associations in order to a song is also considered to avoid any harm.
Music, like many other forms of artwork, has a healing effect when utilized the right way. “It can be used to help patients manage their own emotions, improve stress tolerance, relax plus stay present in the moment during the procedure, ” Owens states.
The stressful environment found at hospitals affects both patients and medical companies. While they will experience different types of stress, medical staff will benefit from the arts simply like their particular patients.
Elizabeth Byland, a professor associated with improv with VCU Arts and the director of applied health improv, uses improv classes to assist healthcare professionals develop better communication skills. That development assist providers better communicate along with associates, because well since using their individuals.
“Health care is centered on a human-to-human relationship, ” Byland says. “Because it’s a good ever-evolving industry, it’s incredibly important in order to maintain that will strong foundation of human connection. Because it evolves, sometimes that connection can get a little muddy. ”
Byland says that the human being connection falls short when communication gets lost, some thing she witnessed a lot of during the outbreak.
“Improv will be practicing listening, being existing with an additional individual, listening to what they have just said plus being affected by what they said, ” Byland says.
Byland is helping medical students and current medical experts to practice critical skills that will they need in order to become effective in providing wellness care to patients.
Regardless of whether it’s theatre, music, kinetic imaging or even art, various members on VCU Wellness can encounter great benefits from bringing arts into medication. The division hopes in order to expand and continue to emphasize an artistic strategy to healthcare.
“We do what we can with the sources we have got, and it’s very invigorating, ” Branch says. “When I see the particular results associated with patients, when they are smiling, you see that this arts have made a difference in their life. ”