The University of Michigan has a Life Sciences Orchestra which consists of medical professionals, social workers, nurses and physicians who play an instrument and have a  wish to play in a professional  orchestra. Each person has to audition to be a part of the Orchestra and the organization employs  a professional Conductor to conduct the performances that are produced each year. Below is a sample of the music that the Orchestra produces.



The field of arts in medicine and arts in healthcare is growing within the culture of hospitals as well as in diverse communities across the United States. The State of the Field Report, completed in 2009, states that approximately 50% of the hospitals across the U.S. that have some type of arts in healthcare program. There is no singular model for arts programming. Diverse programs have been created out a need to provide positive outcomes and experiences for patients, their families, and hospital staff.  The arts have a way of humanizing the hospital environment. Arts at the bedside, provided by many programs, offer the experience of art making as a way to transcend and provide meaningful care to what is often a challenging and defining moment in a patient’s life. The arts level the playing field, bridging economic status, age, race and ethnicity.

What is important about the inclusion of the arts in a clinical setting? From the beginning of time and recorded history, the arts have been  essential in the expression of what it means to be human. The clinical environment can often be a cold and unfamiliar experience which removes one from their community, family and friends, animals and home. The arts give accessibility to unlocking meaning in moments of illness and disillusionment. The arts provide a human to human connection which is essential to the experience of care-giving.

      The State of the Field Report, offers a progress report of the field of Arts in Healthcare. “This report was created from a group of 40 experts in medicine, social services, the arts, business and government to create a strategic plan for advancing cultural programming in healthcare.”  The report identified areas of focus where the arts are having a positive impact on patients, families, communities and environments. Areas of focus include:

  • Patient Care
  • Healthcare Environments
  • Caring for Caregivers
  • Community Well-Being


The types of programs that were revealed in the report range from performances in public spaces, to bedside activities, healing gardens, art carts, art activities for staff, art activities in waiting rooms and a staff orchestra of chorus. The most prevalent type of programming is in the permanent display of art.The report also reviewed demographics of who is being served by arts in healthcare programming. Diverse populations including Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, and White populations were largest groups served through the arts.

How are programs funded? The State of the Field Report revealed that roughly 55% of arts programs in hospitals are funded through the organization’s operating budget. Volunteer Services and hospital endowments make up about 12% each, followed by grants, gifts, PR budgets, patrons and gift shop revenues.

There is evidence that arts based programming may improve the experience of interventions when music, writing, drawing, dance are used to promote healing and care for patients. Blair Sadler, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare  says,


 “In this new healthcare era of increased transparency, rising consumer expectations, and spiraling costs, we need solutions that improve patient care and at lower costs. As a hospital CEO for 26 years, I witnessed how well designed and effective arts intereventions can deliver these benefits.When the arts-music, writing, drawing, dance –are used in hospitals and palliative care settings, pain and anxiety are reduced for patients, which promotes healing and improves their care experience. I am optimistic that promising new research will show these programs will reap the additional benefits of shorter hospital stays, less medication, and fewer complications-potentially saving our healthcare system significant dollars annually.”


Below are you tube videos of programs around the United States. The first is the Texas Children’s Video, a program in Houston, Texas.




This is the University of Buffalo’s Arts in Medicine Program.