Laura Lewis Blischke’s love of the arts began at an early age when her mother took her to Atlanta Ballet’s, “The Nutcracker.” This passion continued to follow Blischke as she grew up dancing in Orlando under her teacher and mentor Edith Royal before and into college, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Dance from Virginia Intermont College in 1984. From there, Blischke enjoyed a ten-year career with the Walt Disney Company as a professional dancer, staging specialist and choreographer before taking residence in Tallahassee, Florida, in 2005.
In Tallahassee, Blischke became the Division of Cultural Affairs’ Arts in Education Program Manager for the State of Florida and it was here where Blischke became fascinated with “the idea of marrying the arts into healthcare” and spent the next few years working with UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine to provide support in the development of the first rural arts in healthcare initiative in the state.
“I felt it was an opportunity to provide state impact in rural counties,” explained Blischke.
With an existing strong relationship between the Division of Cultural Affairs and the UF Shands Hospital Arts in Medicine program, Blischke was able to create an interest with the state to begin an arts in medicine pilot project in Franklin County, Florida, at Weems Memorial Hospital. The first year of the pilot project was successful and the development of the Arts in Healthcare for Rural Communities Tool Kit continues to support those rural counties wishing to begin programs of their own.
Recently, Blischke accepted a position as the Programming and Membership Manager for Arts for Health Florida, a statewide organization whose mission is to promote the use of the arts to enhance health and well-being. As their new Programming and Membership Manager, Blischke will organize arts in health events around the state and build strong networks of individuals and organizations that can be a support and resource for others.
Excited by this new opportunity, Blischke expresses that a career in arts in medicine is “uniquely special because it allows you to connect with others through creativity and artistic expression and to be a vehicle through which others may pursue meaning and gain a sense of control over their lives at a time when a loss of control could be prevalent while experiencing a healthcare crisis."
This month, Blischke will be graduating with her Master of Arts (MA) in Arts in Medicine and is grateful for the extraordinary guidance that the UF faculty has provided as she has moved through the course curriculum:
“The Arts in Medicine Graduate study was richly valuable not only for the connections with other students pursuing the same, but the enormous amount of information and insight gained through wonderful professors and teachers and the course curriculum. A career in arts in medicine allows an opportunity to serve others in a way that can rejuvenate individuals, providing to them a positive outlet to express themselves within a healthcare setting.”