Center for Arts in Medicine

Arts in Medicine Online Graduate Program

Alumni / Alumni Stories

Alyson Maier
Special Project Coordinator, National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH); Program Coordinator, Arts for Health Florida; Center for Arts in Medicine Masters Program

Aly Maier received her Master of Arts (MA) in Arts in Medicine in 2018.  She currently serves as Arts Program Manager for NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public health system in the US.

The Arts in Medicine department at NYC Health + Hospitals seeks to foster the emotional well-being, promote healing, wellness, and engagement of patients, families, employees, and the greater Health + Hospitals community by integrating all discipline of the arts such as literary, visual and performing arts throughout the Health + Hospitals system. As the Arts Program Manager, Maier collects best practices and implements arts programs that enhance the patient experience, employee engagement, and community wellness through combining artistic innovation, education, and high-quality healthcare.

Maier was previously employed at NOAH, the National Organization for Arts in Health, as Special Project Coordinator, where she assisted the board of directors in achieving their goals around arts in health practice, research, and professionalization.  Maier credits the strategic planning, program planning, and grant writing experience she gained from the Center for Arts in Medicine graduate program as instrumental in allowing her to execute the demands of her positions.

In November, 2017, Maier travelled to Rwanda as part of an interdisciplinary group of artists lead by director of the Center for Arts in Medicine, Jill Sonke. Maier says the experience was incredible and life-changing. Maier helped facilitate the restoration of a mural originally designed by Lily Yeh, and along with other visual artists designed and painted a health-promotion mural at a local clinic which illustrates family planning tools and techniques.

In her final semester of the MA for Arts in Medicine, she worked on completing her capstone project at Kings County Hospital, part of the NYC Health + Hospitals system.  Maier evaluated whether participating in arts in medicine reduces stress and increases social support for hospital staff. Her future research interests include exploring any potential relationships between participation in arts programming by staff and stress, burnout, and retention rates.

Of her experience in the graduate program and future in the field, Maier says "I fully credit the program, the coursework and connections to my current success in the field, and am excited to continue to engage with the field through my role at NYC Health + Hospitals."

Our required curriculum is entirely online, however Aly had the opportunity to attend our Arts in Medicine Summer Intensive during her second year in the online Master's program. While some students take this as a pre-requisite, it is also offered as an in-person elective to currently enrolled Arts in Medicine Online Graduate Students. This testimonial was filmed during her time at the 2017 intensive.

Linh Dang
Senior Director of Arts in Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals; Arts in Medicine Graduate Certificate

Linh Dang received her Arts in Medicine Graduate Certificate in 2016 with hopes to pursue the Master or Arts (MA) in Arts in Medicine in the future. Thanks to her time in the program, she is now the Senior Director of Arts in Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. Read an interview with Linh about her #ArtsInHealth journey by clicking here.

During her time in the graduate certificate program, Linh gained knowledge, experience, and confidence that allowed her to pursue an executive position.

As the Senior Director of Arts in Medicine, Linh uses Arts in Medicine to help combat burnout and compassion fatigue among staff by offering new arts initiatives to support employees in delivering high-quality care for patients and families. Linh's certificate helped her to focus on compassion and how to combine it with the arts. The courses gave her many innovative ideas. Linh is producing a workbook relating to art journaling, as well as using art to spread compassion through what she calls, “Compassionate Art.”

Linh says, "Arts in Medicine provides a purpose for any artist who wants to see how the magic of art can give an instant boost to a meaningful life, a look of pride in a patient’s face, or a tangible grasp of joy. Arts in Medicine makes me excited to learn more and do more for others who are sick and to give beauty back to the community."

Linh also notes that, "Attending CAM is one of the best things that happened in my life. It’s not just a degree or a profession, it’s a community that continues to give back. I am proud of my Arts in Medicine Certificate and of UF."

Emily Pozek
Associate Executive Director, Dance Alive National Ballet; Alumna, Center for Arts in Medicine Masters Program

Dance Alive National Ballet appointed Emily Pozek, former Outreach Director, to the position of Associate Executive Director in March of 2020. Dance Alive had this to say about Emily: "Bringing 10 years of experience in nonprofit administration and dance education, Emily has an unparalleled passion for bringing dance into all communities. During her time as a University of Florida student, in addition to her B.F.A in Dance Performance, Emily completed two undergraduate certificates in Arts in Healthcare and Dance in Healthcare. Notably, Emily went on to become the first UF student to graduate from the Masters in Arts in Medicine program at UF.

For over five years Emily was a Dancer in Residence for the Center for Arts in Medicine at UF Health. During these years, she led “Dance for Life,” a dance class designed for people living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. In addition to her service at the UF Center for Arts and Medicine, Emily has acted as an adjunct professor for the UF School of Theatre and Dance.

Emily has traveled the U.S and abroad as a dance adjudicator and facilitator. She has worked in special needs classrooms, juvenile detention centers and community centers as a champion in arts education. She is thrilled to be stepping into this new role to help continue the legacy of Dance Alive National Ballet and to help pave the way for the future of the company."

These are the thoughts Emily shared shortly after graduating with her MA in Arts in Medicine.

"I always knew that I wanted to continue my education, but I wasn’t sure exactly how or what field I wanted to enter. During my undergraduate work, I got involved with Arts in Medicine at UF. It was life changing. Dance has always been an interest, but it wasn’t until I began working with Arts in Medicine and used dance with new communities of people that I found my true passion.

The master’s program challenged me to employ critical thinking, real-world application, and problem-solving. The curriculum allowed me to deepen my work with Dance for Life, a class that I teach for people with Parkinson’s disease. Throughout the two years of the program, I applied the concepts we discussed in class to my work with dancers and improved my instructional approach.

The structure of the coursework is completely online, but the program itself is personal. Because the degree is offered virtually, it allowed me to work alongside many different artists from all over the country. I worried that since the program was online I would miss the face-to-face connections with my classmates and teachers. However, the program is designed to foster close connections with peers, and my classmates became friends and fellow artists.

The support from the faculty and students was incredibly rewarding, helping me expand my creative practices. I’ve always considered myself a dancer and a mover, but never a visual artist. With encouragement from the teachers and my peers throughout the program, I challenged myself to explore new mediums in art and learn new skills.

During my studies, my relationships with both the faculty and students were pivotal to my experience. The program helped me create unique friendships and mentorships with knowledgeable and world-renowned faculty members. Their support and guidance throughout the program were a huge boost to my success. My fellow classmates were an inspiration to me as well. They all brought a different voice into our discussions, allowing us to problem-solve, think critically, and build a new understanding about the world of Arts in Medicine. I feel fortunate to be a part of this group of individuals, and the friendships and partnerships I made through this program are ones I will have for the rest of my life."

Al Kinlaw
Pharmacist, Arts in Health Advocate; Alumnus, Center For Arts in Medicine Graduate Certificate Program.

"The UF Graduate Certificate in Arts in Medicine brought me out of the healthcare bubble I was accustomed to as a pharmacist at the hospital I work at. In many aspects, the program changed the fundamental and conceptual ways I viewed healthcare. It offered me the opportunity to help patients develop their own creativity in a setting in which they are mostly accustomed to undergoing medical-based interventions. Arts in Medicine was a mind-opening concept that allowed for deeper conversations and connections to arise.

Some healthcare providers tend to be like goldfish in a tank, in which treatment and diagnosis are provided somewhat monotonously to their patients. Practitioners tend to be stuck in typical behavioral patterns of medical care but through my studies I learned that arts in medicine is an adjunct modality that provides creative interactions that can be healing for patients and families. One that engages people and creates a space for us to connect on a much more profound level. 

Unlike many students who came into the program, I did not come with an artistic background. Despite this, arts in medicine pushed me out of my comfort zone to try new experiences while creating a comfortable atmosphere to do so. And, if there were one thing I want potential students to know, it’s that I encourage anyone who is interested to enroll in the program. Whether an artist or not – don’t be discouraged.

With my background of arts in medicine, I am now able to bring what I learned to healthcare professionals across the country. By teaching continuing education courses in most states in the continental U.S., I can share the concepts I was taught to others. I firmly believe that arts in medicine is critical for developing well-roundedness for ALL healthcare providers."

Kimberly Kirklin
Director, UAB’s Institute for Arts in Medicine & Education Curation for the Alys Stephens Center; Alumna, Center for Arts in Medicine Masters Program

"As a trained performer and an arts administrator for the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I have seen the arts positively affect lives first-hand. I know how the arts can impact a young person exploring communication through theatre. I have watched children make academic connections and gain self-confidence by writing and performing poetry, and I have observed a community of people support one another creatively and emotionally while working collaboratively to create a quilt.

As the ASC expanded into the realm of arts in medicine, I became aware of the pioneering work of the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine and Shands Arts in Medicine. Over the past two years I have had the pleasure of learning from the passionate, gifted, and gracious staff through trainings, professional development, and the graduate certificate program. The program has reignited my passion for learning and has given me the confidence to promote the field of arts in medicine in my community. At the time I began the certificate program the ASC was completing an arts in medicine pilot project in partnership with UAB Hospital. Its success led to the creation of UAB’s Institute for Arts in Medicine which was developed, in part, by knowledge gained through the program.

As I continue into UF’s Master of Arts in Arts in Medicine I feel empowered to continue local dialogues that could ultimately shift the paradigm of healing which focuses primarily on the body, to one that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit."

Lisa Swanson
Arts in Medicine Practitioner; Alumna, Center for Arts in Medicine Masters Program

"The Online Graduate Certificate Arts in Medicine program is an excellent program and has literally changed my life. When I started the program I did not have art experience in a healthcare environment; my art experience was in teaching and in ministry. I have found that the online flexible program’s curriculum is designed for students with different backgrounds and levels of experience. The curriculum, combined with the interaction from the excellent instructors and other students with varied levels of experience, prepared me for a professional practice in arts in medicine.

The career specific healthcare and art curriculum equipped me with valuable knowledge to enter the medical environment during my practicum experience. Within a few weeks of facilitating patient bedside art in the hospital, passion and compassion, was unlocked in me. I found I loved facilitating art one on one with the patient. Every time I entered a patient’s room it was exciting to see and experience how the creative flow brought wellness to the patient in a variety of ways. This fueled my passion for a career in Arts in Medicine.

My experience through the program has developed new levels of understanding and creativity within me with fresh perspective in my own personal art practice. I am a ceramic sculptor and through the course readings, assignments and practicum experience I have started to create ceramic tile healing wall art installations created by the patients during bedside art. Through an ongoing creative flow and understanding of self-care and creative activity I have found a new freedom in my art and in exploring other art mediums.

I highly recommend the online degree experience in Arts in Medicine. I am looking forward to pursuing my Masters Degree in Arts in Medicine once the online degree opens up at the University of Florida."

Barbara Steinhaus
Music Department Chair, Brenau University; Board Member, National Organization for Arts in Health; Alumna, Center For Arts in Medicine Graduate Certificate Program

"Understanding why you have a passion for the arts is a big subject that has to do with the environment and cultural development of humankind; it is wonderful to study. How the arts can serve others is also a story that needs learning and telling. But discovering that the arts work as regenerative agents for humans both ill and healthy and that they help us truly care for ourselves and one another is too great a treasure to be left in the margins of academia. Arts in Medicine at UF brings this front and center with tenderness, intelligence, and vitality."

Barbara also serves as a Board Member for the National Organization for Arts in Health

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