Humanities in Medicine Symposium—Jacksonville, Florida November 10-11, 2018

Melanie Ambler | Neuroscience Concentrator | Former ASaP TA

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            Over the weekend of November 10th and 11th, I had the pleasure of joining Rachel in what would be the most inspiring weekend of my life. For two jam-packed days, we existed in a microcosm of artist scientists, of professionals dedicated to the humanities in medicine. We spoke to physicians, art therapists, music therapists, photographers, teachers, students, and left each conversation with ideas and questions. A man asked me, after the first day, how I felt, and I could only respond with one word.


            We were treated to keynote speeches by some absolutely incredible individuals. Richard Kogan treated us to almost an hour and a half of combined music and lecture. He described the life of George Gershwin, one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century and punctuated each major life event with a signature piece written by Gershwin himself. A psychiatrist and renowned pianist, Dr. Kogan embodies the persona of the conference. He refuses to give up either passion and makes it a goal to learn more about his music through understanding the psychiatric intricacies of his patients. To say this talk was fascinating would be an understatement. He held the audience’s captivation—we laughed, some cried, and we all were transfixed while he played.

            The keynotes were just one component of the day. In between the morning keynotes were the PechaKucha Presentations, or a presentation consisting of 20 slides that automatically change after 20 seconds. The presenter has exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. These presentations ranged from introducing Improv classes for doctors, using storytelling for persons with OCD, decreasing mental health stigma through graphic art, and, yours truly, Artists and Scientists as Partners.

            Rachel and I presented a PechaKucha entitled “You CAN Take it With You” in which we introduce ASaP and the wonderful opportunity it provides undergraduates like me to feel confident that they can take their passions with them into their futures. We started off the first 20 seconds with a bit of movement. Seeing the entire conference follow along and move to our beat was a really amazing visual. 200 hands shook in synchrony and I could see smiles forming on a lot of faces. After our presentation, one man came up to Rachel and said our entire presentation was like a dance. This was exactly what we were hoping for.

            Overall, my experience at the conference cemented what I want to do with my life. That’s no small task, but it was accomplished with ease once I met the attendees. It was such a welcoming, inclusive, supporting environment and I look forward to spreading this enthusiasm to others.