Making clinical spaces beautiful enhances the climate for patients and the healthcare team alike. One way to do this is to explore local partnerships with artists.
How can our exam rooms be more visually interesting for patients?
This question was discussed during a Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) Patient Family Advisory Council meeting, a forum that brings together patients, families, and practice staff with hopes to provide patients with a better experience. One patient raised the above question after a recent visit to JHCP’s Remington practice in Baltimore, whose freshly painted walls were bare. Her experience sparked an exciting discussion which resulted in an innovative community collaboration.
The practice decided to partner with the Baltimore-based Maryland Institute of College of Art (MICA) to transform the clinic’s empty walls into a visually dynamic care environment. The JHCP team worked with MICA professor Gina Palacios and Associate Dean Michael Weiss to create an undergraduate elective course to commission artwork for the clinical space. The Remington care team loved the patient’s idea of commissioning art from local community members. For the MICA students, this was a unique opportunity to work directly with a client and create art with a distinctive audience—patients—in mind. Over the course of the semester, 11 students created 44 original pieces of art for the Remington practice exam rooms. The art in the thirty internal medicine exam rooms are Baltimore landmark themed, such as the baseball stadium and classic row house style homes.
As you’ll see in the bottom picture, the obstetrics/gynecology exam rooms are bird themed.
In December 2019, the new art was unveiled during a student-led exhibition at the Remington practice. Says former site administrator Joe Riggs:
“Every day patients comment on how wonderful the art is and how it makes them feel. We also get great feedback from our own team. Our staff members are providing care to patients in the exam rooms all day long, and their work environment and sense of well-being is really important. They say having artwork in their work environment has brought life to our practice.”
Adding art not only brightened up the exam rooms, but also improved the experiences of patients and staff. Intentionally examine your healthcare space. Take a few minutes to sit in one of your exam rooms. Is there anything on the walls to look at? Consider eliciting feedback from patients and families about your healthcare space.
If your space lacks art, explore a partnership with one of your local educational institutions. As evidenced by this story of the Remington practice, these partnerships can be mutually beneficial. Improving the healthcare environment can improve the clinical experience for patients, and for you!
Read more about the JHCP-MICA project in the Hopkins Dome. The author would like to thank Joe Riggs and Heidi Stasiowski for providing information on the project and for feedback on earlier drafts of this article.