AIM Nurse Coordinator and Team Present Research Findings at the 2023 National Organization for Arts in Health Convening

Since its inception in 1990, UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine has offered healthcare workers and hospital staff opportunities to participate or receive arts engagements. Whether they be through a simple card-making project hosted in an atrium, to music performances on a unit, AIM has consistently hoped to provide those working in the clinical setting the access to creative activities and engagements. These opportunities have nearly always been well-received, but AIM Nurse Coordinator Lauren Arce, MSN, RN, OCN, AHN-BC, knew there was room for improvement with how and when the program facilitates these engagements.

NOAHCON’23 researchers, presenters, academics, and administrators

Thus, Lauren gathered a team of arts in health investigators to prompt the question, “What helps and what gets in the way of healthcare worker participation in workplace arts programs?”

Lauren serves as co-investigator on the study alongside Morgan Yacoe, MFA, of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine. Lauren sat down with AIM Admin Assistant, Erin Beardslee, to discuss the successes of the research and the presentation at NOAHCON’23.

To present their findings, representatives from the research team traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend and present at the 2023 National Organization for Arts in Health Convening (aka NOAHCON’23).

What inspired this research question?

In May of 2022, Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, named healthcare worker burnout as one of four national public health priorities. In response to the call, Lauren wanted to support healthcare workers with “all they need to heal and thrive.” And while AIM has always offered arts engagements for healthcare workers varying from full-day, offsite retreats, to pop-up, on-unit workshops, and everything in between, Lauren wanted to know what makes it easier or more difficult to create better programming for them.

In addition to answering the question for UF Health healthcare workers in Gainesville, FL, Lauren also wants to help other programs do the same. Until now, there existed no assessment tool of this nature, so Lauren and Morgan were determined to build one.

Co-investigators Lauren Arce and Morgan Yacoe
Co-investigators Lauren Arce and Morgan Yacoe

How did healthcare workers respond?

Lauren said, “With great enthusiasm. Within one week of sending one email, we met our survey limit of 200 participants which included anyone working at UF Health who engages with patients as part of their usual duties.” Healthcare workers in all roles and in all Gainesville facilities were invited to participate. There are no studies, models, or toolkits that have been published where HCWs have been involved in planning and implementing arts program design.

What’s next for the study?

Data collection is done and thematic analysis of the focus groups is underway. Lauren says publishing an article in 2024 is a top priority, and the team will seek funding to build the toolkit so that other institutions can have the tools to engage healthcare workers in building site-specific arts in healthcare programming.

What were some highlights from NOAHCON/the presentation?

There was a lot of engagement at the conference both by people who were already trying to engage healthcare workers and those who would like to, with high interest in partnership. The research team will partner with other institutions like New Jersey Performing Arts Center who will replicate the study. “We’re looking to see what similarities or differences exist in all kinds of hospitals,” says Lauren of the future target demographics. The team is interested in collecting from a variety of healthcare settings now that the research has been done at an academic health sciences center in the south (UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL). That way the team will see if the findings hold true everywhere, or if they are site-specific.

Lauren shared that secured Florida Division of Arts and Culture (DAC) funding is dedicated to implementing four new projects over the next year that are specific to our healthcare workers here at UF Health in Gainesville.