Residents, Fellows and Doctoral students

Dear Program Directors:

We are pleased to write to you to make you aware of a new initiative at the University of Toronto, called The Health, Arts and Humanities Program.  The goal of this program is to broaden the experience of learners in Undergraduate Medical Education and Postgraduate Medical Education to themes of narrative competence, reflective capacity and to explore the role of arts-based learning in the formation of physician identity.

We are writing to ask your assistance in identifying leaders in your program who would be willing to act as a mentor/resource person for developing such competencies during residency and fellowship training, and who can help direct learners in their arts and humanities-based learning and research. The goal is community-building within your specialty area and beyond (see below).


The Health, Arts and Humanities Program advances a deeper understanding of health, illness, suffering, disability and the provision of healthcare by creating a community of scholars in the arts, humanities and clinical sciences at the University of Toronto.  Learners at the University of Toronto have already been exposed to portfolio-based learning and to various learning experiences such as reading and film discussion groups. We would like to continue these initiatives into postgraduate training as well.

Benefits To Our Residents and Fellows:

A growing international literature has demonstrated that healthcare professionals who seek out exposure to the humanities and arts-based learning improve their capacity to think critically and bring enhanced sensitivity, curiosity and creativity to their work with patients.  They learn to challenge personal assumptions and biases, to stretch their world view and to become more reflective practitioners. This in turn can lead to better self-care, personal balance and greater career satisfaction.

Help Us Identify Humanities Leaders In Your Residency Program!

Our goal is to find at least one faculty lead in each residency program who is passionate about the role of humanities-based training in postgraduate education and would be willing to mentor and direct trainees in arts and humanities-based initiatives. This could be an amateur (or professional!) writer, musician, painter/artist/photographer, film-buff, ethicist, dancer, actor, medical historian or philosopher who is passionate about their discipline.  If you are willing to play this role or can suggest a colleague, please let us know!

You can email your contact info to:, with a cc to the Health, Arts and Humanities Program Director, Allan Peterkin at

Many thanks for your help with this worthwhile initiative.

Salvatore M. Spadafora MD, FRCPC, MHPE
Vice Dean Postgraduate Medical Education
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
: 416-978-6709


Allan D. Peterkin, MD, FCFP, FRCP
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine,
Senior Fellow, Massey College
Head, Health, Arts and Humanities Program
University of Toronto (
Senior Editor, ARS MEDICA (
Phone:  416-586-4800 ext. 3204
Fax: 416-586-5970