For the last three decades, Shands Hospital at the University of Florida has set the foundation for using arts in medicine. This summer, the hospital will open its first Center for Integrative Medicine.
The Integrative Medicine Program will partner with UF’s College of Medicine and Shands’ Arts in Medicine program. The program started in the 1980s and has since grown to incorporate many different types of art and therapies for patients and employees at the hospital.
“Integrative medicine brings together medical science with complementary and alternative therapies,” said Jill Sonke, director of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine. “It bridges medical practice with disciplines like acupuncture, massage, tai chi, meditation, and yoga.”
This clinic will be the first of its kind at Shands. It will provide patients more opportunities to different techniques of healing, as well as the opportunity to receive these on an outpatient basis.
Shands’ Arts in Medicine program now provides patients with therapies like yoga and guided meditation on a bedside basis, but this new clinic will provide an expansion.
The Arts and Medicine yoga coordinator, Tammy Bernard, said research shows these practices give patients a better quality of life. Mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques can actively be used to support a patient’s well-being, she said.
“I’ve seen in my own practice how patients respond so favorably to receiving this augmentation of practices,” Bernard said. “I’m just excited about how it’s going to unfold.”
Studies have shown integrative medicine can help patients with depression, anxiety, difficulties sleeping and pain management, she said.
The program is set to start in August, but this is not the only development for Arts in Medicine at UF. The program is in the process of trying to offer a master’s degree in Arts in Medicine. It will be an online curriculum focused on educating people to use the arts in a health care context.
Sonke said a master’s degree could attract many different students, including artists looking to work in health care environments and health care providers interested in using the arts to enhance their health practices.
The certificate of Arts in Medicine was launched last fall. Sonke said this growing field is very important to help humanize the stressful environment of the hospital, as well as give patients opportunities to express themselves. Sonke hopes to launch the master’s program in 2014.
Rebekah Geier edited this story online.