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MSSU combines art and science at the Artful Medicine Symposium

By: Olivia Ryckman | Published: October 03, 2023 | Categories: MOSO Minute
MSSU combines art and science at the Artful Medicine Symposium

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, once said that art and medicine have been intertwined from the start, and the second annual Artful Medicine Symposium may prove that claim.

Taking place from October 19-21 on the MSSU campus, the symposium aims to unite healthcare and humanities by pursuing innovative pathways to improve patient/physician interactions through research and artwork.

“We want to bring together medical professionals and non-medical professionals—those who teach the arts and humanities—to see what we can do to help us improve healthcare,” said Dr. Alla Barry, conference co-chair and professor of biology & environmental health.

From what began as a one-day occurrence has evolved into a now three-day hybrid conference, including presenters from the U.S. Virgin Islands and renowned institutions such as Yale and Harvard University. Sponsorships have grown to include Freeman Health System, Dr. Lance and Mrs. Sharon Beshore, and Kansas City University.

“For our art majors, I think the main takeaway will be discovering the importance and necessity of art in other disciplines such as medicine,” said Frank Pishkur, department chair of Art and Design. “The exhibition opportunities of the two different shows will also be great. I’m excited about our first Keynote Speaker, who will be interacting with one of the English classes while on campus.”

This year’s keynote speakers will be Renée Nicholson, director of the Humanities Center at West Virginia University, and Angela N. Pierce, assistant dean of Whole Health Integration at Alice L. Walton School of Medicine.

MSSU students like Maya Greenquist, senior biology major, were greatly influenced by the first symposium. Greenquist used data taken from the conference to author the “Integration of Art in Pre-Medical Education—The Artful Medicine Symposium as a Model Tool”. This study suggested that a curriculum including both the humanities and science will enhance medical care overall.

“The symposium opened up a whole new world for some people,” said Greenquist. “For me, it really showed people that you don't need to be an artist or a scientist specifically to reap the benefits of using the humanities to encourage healing.”

Dhvani Patel, second-year MKEAP student, and her partner Collin Gray presented oral artwork piece with a live demonstration comparing the process of treating a disease to the Japanese art form of kintsugi, the process of repairing broken bowls with golden lacquer.

“We have seen new research surface talking about the use of art therapy with patients who have been in the hospital for prolonged periods of time and how it will increase

their happiness and outlook on life.” said Patel. “I hope more people will understand that art and medicine have been intertwined from the start.”

Registration is free for Missouri Southern and KCU students. KCU employees will receive a 50% discount, while MSSU employees may register for free.

“If everyone who attends the symposium simply leaves with just a slightly more open mind, I'll be happy,” said Greenquist.