Alberta Initiatives

Art à la Carte, based in Calgary Alberta, brings art, conversation and joy to long-term patients by transforming sterile hospital rooms and treatment areas into places of greater comfort and hope. Art à la Carte began as one woman’s effort to help a close friend face her fear of dying while embracing the meaning of her life. By hanging art along her friend’s hospital room walls, the sterile surroundings were transformed into a comforting home environment.

The Friends of University Hospitals in Edmonton has created and operates a permanent art collection of 1,400 works that are used for patients' and staff enjoyment. The in-hospital McMullen Gallery also provides free drop-in workshops run by professional artists.

The University of Alberta's faculty of medicine and dentistry established an Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine Program in 2006. The AHHM program offers arts-based electives, theatre-based approaches to learning, narrative reflective practice sessions, and other innovative curricular offerings and co-curricular activities. Many events organized by the AHHM program are open to the larger university community, and also to the public. Inquiry into intersections between the arts, humanities, social sciences and medicine is also supported by this program.

The University of Calgary established the AHHW working group, with support from the Faculty of Arts, in April 2013. Their mission is to advance interdisciplinary research, pedagogy, practice and knowledge translation regarding the integration of arts and humanities in health care provision and education, and in initiatives and activities that support and promote health and wellbeing.

The Arts in Medicine Program at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton offers support groups in the form of art classes for cancer patients and their family members, along with one-day arts retreats. Classes are co-facilitated by professional artists and a counselor from the Institute. They include soapstone carving, painting, fibre arts, quilting, journal writing, sculpting and music.

The Canadian Association for Medical Education (CAME) sponsored Arts, Humanities and Social Science in Medicine (AHSSM) Education Interest Group (EIG) was introduced to support networking and information sharing among those engaged in arts-based, humanities and social sciences-based teaching in medical and health professional education.