Artist-in-Residence Program


Our Artist-in-Residence program (AIR) engages patients and clinical staff in creative arts activities as part of the healing process through the visual arts, creative writing, storytelling, music, creative movement, and guided imagery.

Our diverse care of 14 professional artists brings stress reduction, inspiration, humor and hope to more than 4,000 people each year at area hospitals, infusion centers, radiation centers, patient rooms, and waiting areas.

Current AIR program location:

  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Previous locations:

  • Washington Cancer Institute
  • Howard University Cancer Center
  • Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital
  • Holy Cross Hospital
  • Providence Hospital

How do the arts benefit patients?

Exposure to the arts and creative expression can often bring forth a transformative healing effect. Research shows that the arts can reduce patients' use of pain medication and length of hospital stays and improve compliance with recommended treatments--offering substantial savings in healthcare costs.

The arts benefit patients by:

  • aiding in physical, mental, and emotional recovery by relieving anxiety and decreasing patients perception of pain
  • serving as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness in an atmosphere where the patient often feels out of control
  • helping people connect with their inner resources for healing through creative expression and giving voice to unspoken thoughts and feelings, helping patients express themselves and gain insight

How do the arts benefit caregivers and healthcare providers?

Caregivers, such as family, friends, and healthcare providers in hospitals, hospices, and other health facilities, are faced with the realities of human suffering, illness, and death on a daily basis.

The arts benefit caregivers and healthcare providers by:

  • creating a common, more normative environment
  • offering caregivers an opportunity for creativity and self-expression that allows them to healthfully integrate their experiences and emotions instead of carrying them home or into the workplace
  • giving medical professionals new tools for improving diagnostic and communication skills and effectively conveying health and recovery information
  • overcoming barriers by embracing diversity, reinforcing family members' supportive role in the healing process, and changing the culture within the healthcare facility to one that is more supportive and humane*

*Source: The Society for the Arts in Health Care, 2009 State of the Field Report

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