ArtBeat– The University of Toronto UGME Arts and Humanities Blog


ArtBeat came into being to inspire and encourage medical students at the University of Toronto to nourish and express their creativity. It is primarily a student-to-student exchange of ideas, perspectives, and visual and literary texts which will provide students with a medium for introspection and reflection.

This blog aims to accomplish the above by:

  • distributing the content of the Companion Curriculum, a series of weekly literary readings correlated with the biomedical lecture materials;
  • eliciting and posting student contributions to the blog in all forms – reflections, written texts, visual art, videos, podcasts, etc;
  • encouraging respectful and professional discussion on the aforementioned content; and
  • informing interested students of the various arts and humanities initiatives underway at UofT, how they can take part, and how we can build a vibrant arts-based learning community.



By generating more interest and motivating medical students to explore the arts and humanities, the ArtBeat hopes to bring focus to the art of medicine – which encompasses much more than just the scientific & clinical knowledge. We will be creating an ongoing dialogue about the human side of medicine and our role in providing compassionate, ethical care to our patients and their families.

For those interested in learning more about what the medical humanities can accomplish, read Johanna Shapiro’s post on what are the inherent intersections between health humanities and professionalism:  Toward the clinical humanities: How literature and the arts can help shape humanism and professionalism in medical education

What do we do?

ArtBeat is a collection of humanities clubs in the context of medicine and healthcare. Our portfolios include:

Art Club: In Art Club we organize drop in therapeutic art sessions (ex. Drawing, figure drawing, biomedical illustration, painting [water, acrylic]). We hope that these sessions will contribute to student wellness, foster creativity, and encourage artistic minds in the medical school to meet and socialize.

Arts & Letters: The Arts and Letters Society aims to encourage appreciation and enjoyment of the arts. From musicals to the ballet, we’ll be organizing fun outings to a variety of events going on in the Toronto arts community, events featuring artistic talent from our own classmates, as well as coordinating bookings for the piano in the MSB cafeteria!

Book Club: The U of T Med Book Club is a new initiative that hosts social meet-ups to talk about both med and non-med related books! We feature a new book every few months. Our goals are to encourage reading for pleasure for medical students, plus provide a fun informal environment to connect with classmates interested in the arts.

Faculty Interviews: We are a team of students who interview faculty to ask them about what motivates them, what their interests outside of medicine are, all in relations to the arts/humanities. The interview is then published on our blog and other social media.

Humans of 2T3 & 2T4: Humans is a photo series in the vein of the popular Humans of New York which aims to highlight the personalities and small profiles of the U of T medicine students. It combines elements of interviewing and photography to present a student’s short story and highlight the diversity of the class.

Improv Troupe: WOO IMPROV! U of T Med’s MedGames Improv team placed #1 in 2017, and many of us had no prior experience in performing improv on stage, let alone competitively. It just goes to show that with passion and commitment, with just a few practices, we can make great scenes happen!

Narrative Medicine Workshops: This project is meant to expose medical students to the value of narrative in medicine as a form of expression and communication that addresses the need of patients and healthcare professionals to voice, reflect on, and validate their experiences. Through our workshops lead by clinicians and other healthcare professionals, medical students gain the opportunity to develop their skills in narrative competency and the tools to apply it towards fostering empathic doctor-patient relationships through promotion of communication skills, reflective practice, and a sense of awareness and immediate acknowledgement of the stories underlying patients’ illnesses.

Philosophy & Medical Ethics Club: This club seeks to understand the weird and wonderful world of medicine. What defines a disease, and what are the implications of such a label? What begets vaccine hesitancy, and how does one approach a patient who subscribes to this belief? What are the contemporary bioethical challenges in medicine, and how does one handle these ethical predicaments in a real-world setting? Through guest speakers, workshops, seminars, and collaboration with academic partners, Philosophy Club aims to engage medical students in the study and practice of medical philosophy, providing a welcoming environment for philosophers new and experienced alike.

Photography Club: Artbeat’s photography workshops expose medical students to the art of photography. Interactive sessions are led by expert photographers and aim to help students develop photography skills as a form of expression, particularly to the human side of medicine.

Synesthesia: Synesthesia is an annual art show that gives students in all healthcare fields the opportunity to exhibit their talent. We showcased original artwork from over 35 artists in the 2018 show. The exhibition highlighted paintings, sketches, photographs, film, poetry, quilt, sculptures and stained glass work. The exhibition is open to all with cocktail hour for meet and greet with artists at the end of the day. See the 2020 exhibition here: