Creative arts therapists, artists, musicians, designers and clinicians from three dozen states and three countries traveled to Boston for the third annual National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) conference.
More than a dozen representatives from Houston Methodist Hospital and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center were among 150 arts-in-medicine professionals who attended the September conference.
“The goal had really been to be a convening point, nationally, for a wide variety of programs that are using the arts to impact health,” said NOAH President J. Todd Frazier, director of Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM). “From the way a hospital is designed and built to how clinicians are embracing the use of the arts, we are a broad net of the way the arts are being used in health care settings.”
This year, conference attendees learned best practices for starting and maintaining an arts in medicine programs, toured medical facilities in Boston, discussed physician burnout and explored artful design in health care.
“The thing I have really pulled from this conference is the physician and staff care opportunities,” said Jennifer Townsend, CPAM’s music therapy program manager. “I’ve learned how applicable the arts can be to that population and how it is not necessary to always have a therapist in that setting all the time.”
Historically, the NOAH conference has been hosted with the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo—a niche conference that welcomes architects, engineers, builders and planners to learn the latest trends in the planning and building of health care facilities.
“Professionally, the NOAH tracks offer another insight into what architects are already thinking of and makes them aware of how much research there is behind how you can use the arts in a health care setting,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, the expo’s vice president and symposium director. “They get better educated professionally and personally, despite the fact that in their careers they are these engineers, contractors and architects. They are very passionate about creating health care environments and want to do everything they can to make those patients and staff and families feel comfortable—and they want to make these spaces better.”
Ferguson and Frazier said the conference, organized this year under theme “Leading the Health Care Revolution,” is an ideal crossroads for arts in health and design.
“It is exciting that our conference has grown so much and we are making a real impact,” Frazier said, adding that top hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, were represented. “Our goal now is to properly manage growth and provide the tools and resources needed for all of these folks to take back to their regions and to be able to make positive change and best practices-based decisions.”
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