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The Healer's Art

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

At Duke, as elsewhere, there are health professionals whose work and art intertwine. Consider the plastic surgeon who creates new faces in flesh and blood and then spends his free time drawing the people in his imagination. And the bench scientist who sees a protein as a structure of beauty, a sculpture of life. Or the pediatrician who used his camera to understand why teenagers have children (one young parent is depicted above), and in the process began to question whether his own childless life is full enough. "Who are we to judge?" he asks.

The art of writing and music can also ease the caregiver and the patient. Every week at Duke Hospital, nurses and physicians carve out a half-hour to meet and discuss poetry. The sessions are led by a poet-in-residence, the first and only at an academic medical center. Daily, visually-disabled patients pick up and feel sculpture and other tactile art in an Eye Center gallery. In hospital units, music has been found to help surgery patients relax before their operations, resulting in use of less pain medication overall and a quicker discharge.

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