Unmasking: Medical students thrive in art activity designed to help find and form professional identities – School of Medicine News

The Warrior MD Class of 2026 from Wayne State University School of Medicine practiced their artistic talents in an extracurricular activity created to get students thinking about shaping their professional identity over the next four years of medical school .

The activity took place on August 3 at the school’s Scott Hall cafeteria. Another session is scheduled for later this month.

The educational event, hosted by Associate Professor Emeritus Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D.; Jennifer Crystal, Ph.D., Academic Advisor for the Class of 2023; and Grace Serra, curator of the Wayne State Art Collection, was designed so that students can first learn how masks have been used to help humans cope with significant life-changing events, and how they reflect the concepts of cultural ideals. Students were able to view works from the Wayne State University Art Collection to learn how culture and masks from Africa, Polynesia and Mexico define identity.

Dean Wael Sakr, MD, speaks with Gray House students about the activity.

“This mask-making project was much more than a craft project. Its intention was to help students begin to think about their own identities as future doctors and become aware of implicit biases,” said Serra: “I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to showcase artwork from the Wayne State University art collection that connected so well to this project.”

The activity was inspired by “Examining Professional Identity Formation Through the Ancient Art of Mask-Making,” a 2019 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine about a similar after-school, non-graduated mask-making program as a form of training. reflective expression. . Using dedicated prompts, students at Penn State University School of Medicine used a blank papier-mâché mask to create a representation of their sense of self within the larger context of medical education.

At Wayne State, medical students, working in groups, used magazines, art supplies and a blank white mask to design the inside and outside of the masks to show their personal fears, insecurities and biases.

Members of Green House from the Class of 2026 show off the front of their finished masks.

“Others may see us as ‘resilient’, ‘strong’, ‘worthy’, ‘smart’ and ‘determined’, but we too are human and sometimes feel like imposters because of this facade that we wear when we hit our lows,” said study participant Angelica Cabatu. “I believe incorporating this into our training now will help us remember later that our patients will have this mask too. which we need to be aware of to meet their needs as a patient and as a human being.”

The project described in the journal article has proven to be a safe and engaging way for students to explore their developing sense of self within the community of medical practice. A similar reaction was received at the WSU School of Medicine.

“This event served as a lesson to me that there are two faces to a medical student, or anyone for that matter, when we were given the task of creating a mask that depicts how the others may perceive us on the outside and what we do not necessarily portray to others on the inside,” Cabatu added. “As a team activity, we discussed among ourselves what we should put on on either side. To my surprise, I found a strange sense of comfort that other members of my group were hiding the same weaknesses as me. Knowing that we’ve all, at some point, or many times, cried from feelings of inadequacy or experienced the stress of our training so far, which made us wonder why we chose this trip reminded me that we are not alone in these feelings, despite what we represent on the outside.

Activity organizers and volunteers present the final results of the students’ work.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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