Medical Humanities

Art and literature are very effective ways to communicate ideas, especially when exploring the cultural, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our human existence.   Many residents have developed talents in creative writing, art, music, dance, photography, or drama and some in the past have been able to express ideas related to family medicine through their art.

A resident should provide a manuscript and presentation of their artistic production to explain how it relates to Family Medicine.  Artistic and literary productions will be judged with the help of post-secondary Fine Arts Faculty according to standards appropriate to the medium.

Some previous examples of artistic production:

  • Visual art, video, or multi-media display: (Eg. quilts expressing the doctor’s experience as patient)
  • Performing art:  theatre, interpretive movement, musical performance (Eg. a one-person play about a resident’s experience as a patient on a psychiatric ward)
  • Creative writing: novella, short story, poetry (Eg:  a short story about the immigrant experience in the Canadian health system)

The underlying objective of the UBC Department of Family Practice Resident Project is that each should contribute to the existing knowledge base of Family Medicine; this objective also applies to Medical Humanities Resident Scholar Projects. Medical Humanities projects commonly increase clinician self-understanding and/or understanding about the physician-patient relationship. Questioning is central to creative arts endeavors, just as it is central to clinical research endeavors. Questioning, or the need to understand more fully, or to explain and interpret, or to listen to the underlying narrative or voice, motivates both artist and researcher. A family medicine resident’s questioning regarding a topic relevant to family medicine is a process through which one attains an increased understanding of the topic. This will result in scholarly work, such as quality improvement projects, original clinical research and reflective/creative processes including interdisciplinary medical art projects.

The UBC Department of Family Practice encourages and supports residents who wish to pursue scholarly Medical Humanities Resident Scholar Projects that are relevant to family medicine. Mediums through which this work may take place include photography, painting, sculpture, music, poetry, drama, film, creative writing and others. Physician artists report that their artistic activities sustain and balance their clinical work1. We wish to promote an expanding view of scholarship that is consistent with academic medicine. <ii>You should obtain approval for your project proposal from your site research faculty and your site director before you begin an Interdisciplinary Art Resident Project.

  1. Doctors Afield. Edited by M McCrea Curnen, H Spiro, D St. James. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08020-4; ii Beattie DS (ed). Expanding the View of Scholarship. Academic Medicine, Vol. 75, No. 9/Sep 2000

You should include the following considerations in your project proposal for review by your site research faculty and site director:

  1.  You should demonstrate some prior interest/proficiency in your discipline of interest
  2.  You should outline the ethical considerations of your Medical Humanities Resident Project with your Site Research Faculty or the Lead Faculty for Research. If your project involves human participants you will need UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Review. (Physician artistic activity can lead to ethical conflicts, such as when the distinction between research, art, and journalism is blurred, or when artistic activity interfaces with patient care.)
  3.  You should have a faculty advisor from your chosen discipline who agrees to advise and mentor you through your project (for example, if you wish to do a music project, your Medical Humanities Resident Project faculty advisor would be from the Faculty of Music at a university or community college.)
  4.  You should demonstrate that the process of completing the Interdisciplinary Art Resident Project will result in your personal growth in (or increased understanding of) the discipline of interest
  5.  You must demonstrate an academic understanding of the integration of the chosen discipline with the discipline of family medicine. Your project proposal must include a scholarly literature review which covers:
  • a historical overview, citing past examples of interdisciplinary work
  • an overview of contemporary interdisciplinary work
  • an exploration of how your project proposal relates to past and contemporary work, and how it seeks to develop an understanding of the integration between this discipline and family medicine.
  1.  Your proposed project should contribute to the knowledge base of family medicine.

Method and Written Report Guidelines

(based on instructions for authors, Canadian Family Physician journal, July 12, 2011)

Medical Humanities

Manuscripts must be prepared in accordance with the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” available on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) website.

Your report should set your project within the context of existing knowledge, outlines the ethical considerations involved in the project, and describes what you did and raises issues for further study or exploration. Write your report in a format similar to that of a research report. However, you may write it in the first person, like a personal diary or field notes.

Abstract is a structured summary of your written report and should include Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion and should not exceed 300 words. Up to 4 key words (MeSH headings) should be included.

Interdisciplinary Art project written report should not exceed 2500 words, excluding abstract, tables, and references.

Background should answer the following questions: What is the past and contemporary interdisciplinary work? Why is my project important? How does if fit into existing work/knowledge? Describe the context. Why do I want to do this project? What prompted me, why is it important to me and to others? Why and how is my project relevant to family medicine? Why is my project different/novel/important compared to what has gone before (refer to pre-existing works)?

Methods should answer the following questions: What did I do? When did I do it? What materials/medium did I use and why? What were the ethical considerations? What are the details of the consent process for participants? What involvement did participants have in ownership or editing of the work?

Results should address the following questions: What are a summary of my results?

Discussion should answer the following questions: How does this project relate to existing interdisciplinary knowledge or published literature? What does my work mean (has my project discovered new meanings or knowledge)? How does this project contribute to our/my understanding of family medicine? How have I deepened my knowledge or proficiency in this discipline and how have I integrated this knowledge into my understanding of family medicine? What might be wrong with my project (limitations)? What will I do next (do I plan further interdisciplinary ventures in this area)? Has my project resulted in the generation of new questions?

Conclusion should answer the following question: Am I able to answer the question of why I did the project in the first place?

References should be current and complete. Check references for accuracy, completeness, and proper format. References should be numbered in the order they appear in the text and should be limited to works cited in the article. List all authors when there are 6 or fewer; when there are 7 or more, list the first 6, followed by et al.

Tables and figures should be attached separately from the main manuscript. Tables and figures should clarify and supplement, but not duplicate, the text. Tables must be self-explanatory and concise. Prepare each table or figure on a separate page. Give titles to tables and captions to figures and other illustrations. Ensure that all tables, figures, and illustrations are cited at appropriate places in the text. Prepare tables in Word; no spreadsheets, please. Use table structure, not spaces and tabs to format tables.

Images and any other visual material should be attached as separate electronic files (do not paste them into the manuscript). These may include photographs, digital illustrations or extra photographs for use if space is available. Images should be sent in a JPG file format.

Authorship Resident(s) should include a description in their written report of what each contributed to their Resident Scholar Project. In addition, if several residents are involved in one Resident Scholar Project, residents should include a statement to describe the processes they underwent to decide the order of the authors on the Resident Scholar Project written report.

Acknowledgements All people (e.g. faculty, professionals, research assistants) who contributed to the work of the Resident Project who are not authors should be named in the Acknowledgments, and what they did should be described. All financial support of the Resident Project should also be described in the acknowledgements.

Guidelines for Authorship and Acknowledgements

Please follow the latest authorship definition provided by the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals listed below from the website: as follows:

“All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. One or more authors should take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, from inception to published article. Authorship credit should be based only on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met. Acquisition of funding, the collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, by themselves, do not justify authorship.”

In addition, all residents and faculty should refer to the Department of Family Practice Authorship and Collaboration policy that was approved by the Post-Graduate Education Committee in 2003. This policy guides the order of authors for faculty and residents who work together on a Resident Scholar Project.

Note: Regarding oral/visual/audio presentation at Resident Scholar Day

The oral/visual/audio presentation of an Interdisciplinary Art Resident Scholar Project may consist solely of the work of art itself, without any explanation or commentary; essentially, your presentation at Resident Scholar Day might be the ‘results’ section of your project. Because the usual 10 minute presentation time-slot at Research Day may be too limiting for you, please discuss with us your time, space and audiovisual needs; we can be flexible. You may also wish to consider providing copies of your written report for your audience, since many of your medical colleagues might be skeptical and biased against the potential role of interdisciplinary art in the development of scholarly medical knowledge.