Elective Years 1 and 2: Shadowing Artists on the Ward

Department: Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine (AHHM) Program, Undergraduate Medical Education

Shadowing Artists on the Wards: Promoting Patient-Centredness through an Arts-Based Medical Elective

**NOT OFFERED IN 2020-21**

Location: University of Alberta Hospital
Duration: 12 hours, over 2-3 months. Deadline for completion: March 24, 2020 - Year 1; April 23, 2020 - Year 2.
Contact: To sign up for this elective, go to: https://forms.gle/NZquSY2i61nT9M7s5 To request additional information, contact the AHHM Program Coordinator by email (ahhm@ualberta.ca), or phone (780-492-0445).
Overview: This interprofessional shadowing elective has been created to introduce medical students to the role and contributions of artists working in healthcare settings.


The Artists on the Wards Program at the University of Alberta Hospital offers patients the opportunity to engage in artmaking and creative expression. One-on-one and group-based sessions with supportive and caring artists (including visual and literary artists, as well as musicians) are designed help patients translate their anxiety, pain, hopes and dreams into art, writing/ poetry, and music, and improve their spirits.


Students will:

  1. Receive an orientation to elective, and the Artists on the Wards Program (1 hour), Monday, December 18, 2019 12:00 - 1pm in the AHHM office.
  2. Actively participate in creating meaningful arts-based experiences for patients working alongside hospital-based artists (7+ hours),
  3. Develop a short bibliography (1-2 pages) to develop an awareness of research and other literature that has addressed the connection between art and health; students select a question or area of the literature that is of particular interest to them (1 hour),
  4. Write a short reflective essay (1-2 pages) about the personal significance of completing the elective, or submit a learning portfolio incorporating visual art, poetry/ prose, and/ or other creative elements (1+ hours),
  5. Participate in a group debriefing discussion to reflect on what they learned (1 hour).

A pass/ fail grade will be assigned (as per the standard "Assessment of Elective Performance" form).

Students will be invited to complete a feedback form to help the elective coordinators improve this elective experience for students in subsequent years.

This elective is offered in partnership with the Friends' of the University of Alberta Hospital and its Arts in Healthcare Program.


Students will learn about:

  1. the benefits of the arts in healthcare, including ways in which the arts can enhance staff health and well-being and overall the aesthetic environment of the hospital,
  2. ways in which artmaking and listening to patients stories can help health practitioners connect with patients as people and relate in more human or person-centered ways with patients,
  3. guidelines informing "best practice" approaches in relation to arts and healthcare.
Additional Notes:



Maximum enrollment: 6 students.


This elective, along with other AHHM electives, exists to support medical students in broadening their intellectual and clinical/practice-based horizons, in particular with respect to the intersections that exist between the arts and humanities in relation to medicine.


Medical students can complete more than one 12-hour elective in Year 1 and 2.


Optional reference resource:

  • Brett-MacLean P, Casavant M, Serviss S, & Cruz A. (2011,December) "Shadowing Artists on the Wards": An undergraduate, arts-based medical elective. Hektoen International, 11 - http://hekint.org/shadowing-artists-on-the-wards-and-undergraduate-arts-based-medical-elective
Last Updated: November 19, 2019