Humanities in Medicine—Photography Elective

Medicine Through the Lens of Photography: Empathy, Advocacy, Compassion through Storytelling

Dr. Dawn Lim, BSc, MD, FRCP(C), MBA, Certificate of Digital Photography, Certificate of Creative Writing (candidate), Clinician Teacher and Assistant Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine

Email:  for more information

Zoom link will be specific to sessions

Learning Goals:

  • Background on the culture of medicine as seen in the literature

o   Behaviours such as bullying, harassment, favoritism, perfectionism (imposter syndrome), cynicism, and productivity as self-worth are common in medicine

o   Dr. Brené Brown (a grounded theory researcher expert in shame and vulnerability) has mapped out the elements of shame. The above behaviours, which we see in medicine, are all shame-based since they all exist when empathy does not co-exist

  • Storytelling is an excellent tool for connection and reflection. I wish to pilot a story-based photography elective to give undergraduate medicine trainees a chance to explore a theme of shame in their medical practice.
  • Goals:

o   Workshop#1 (1 hour): open discussion with medical students about the pervasiveness of shame culture in medicine, what is shame, how does it manifest

o   Workshop #2 (1 hour): discussion about how visual storytelling can be a powerful medium for advocacy work

o   Workshop #3 (2 hours): how to design a photo essay

  • As a group, we will choose one theme of shame to explore through photography
  • We will also go through tips on how to craft a visual story
  • Students will then be encouraged to create their own photographs

o   Workshop #4: feedback and critiques

  • 3 x 1 hour long online opportunities to critique photographs created by the students that can illustrate this concept of shame in medicine.
  • This will be done approximately every six weeks with dates decided by majority of the group
  • Critiques will be amongst students with feedback from 1-2 photographer/doctors with experience in publishing/photo-essays
  • Create a group photo essay to share at the  Synesthesia Art Show

Duration of Elective:

o   8 hours instruction time plus independent time for photographing own vision of the chosen theme

Deadline and Key Details:

o   Students need access to their own camera (preferred) thought smartphone may be acceptable if high resolution

o   Need to sign up early in the fall since the off hours creation time for photography may fall outside of the elective