Living stories for hope and change

April 11, 2014

Cheryl McLean

The role of the creative arts in health care

Cheryl McLean, an independent scholar and editor, addressed the Alberta Psychiatric Association's 2014 meeting in Banff on March 28, 2014.

Her PFSP-sponsored keynote picked up on this year’s conference theme—Challenges of Change.


“Living Stories for Hope and Change—Meeting the Challenge of Change Through the Arts in Medicine”

Ms McLean's presentation addressed two questions:

  1. How can I use the creative arts to support my personal wellness?
  2. How do the creative arts in medicine help practitioners enhance clinical and relational skills?

She answered those questions in a multifaceted presentation that began with a dramatic reminiscence honoring the memory of her mother, a psychiatric nurse.

She also performed a monologue of a fictional, formerly incarcerated patient and showed a short video clip from an ethnodrama about an aging Holocaust survivor entitled “Remember Me for Birds” (written and performed by Ms. McLean).


"Remember Me for Birds"

Cheryl McLean, an actor, researcher and publisher, worked as a therapist and researcher in an "Over 60" mental health program in Montreal between 2001 and 2003.

She wrote the original script for this drama about aging and mental health based on these experiences.


Re-discovering the nature of healing

Her references to the burgeoning literature about the dynamic and sometimes controversial, presence of the humanities in health care complemented the performance aspects of her presentation. For Ms. McLean, the arts and the humanities provide practitioners with a rich means to discover and re-discover the nature of healing—of our patients and ourselves.

Her theme of the arts as a catalyst for change and healing is given expanded treatment in Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, a resource book that Ms. McLean recently edited and which includes contributions by physicians, medical educators and researchers, allied health professionals and artists engaged in this interdisciplinary work.

Presentations by Dr. Vincent Hanlon

At this year’s APA meeting, Dr. Vincent Hanlon also presented two PFSP physician health sessions. "Mindfulness" on Thursday evening provided an alternative way for some conference registrants to ease into the weekend’s busy agenda. On Saturday he facilitated a workshop entitled "Ready or Not—Here Comes Retirement."

Interested in a PFSP presentation at your event?

Each year PFSP sponsors a number of local, national, and international speakers on physician health topics at various annual conferences, section, department and PCN retreats, and resident half-days.

If you are interested in adding a physician health theme to your education or professional development event, contact Diane Bird, PFSP education coordinator, at


The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.