Carol Rogers is an Art Therapist at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in South Dakota. Three Years ago Carol brought the National Arts Program® to Avera Health System. The collaboration has been a great success and on July 21st their 3rd Annual NAP Exhibit opened to rave reviews.
Carol and the artists-in-residence at Avera work in the community through the Arts Escapes workshops and anywhere they can engage with patients and staff to weave arts programming into every area that calls out for it, because art changes everything.
As an art therapist, she engages art to help people express, cope and deal. Something that has proved to be just as important for healthcare employees as it is for patients and visitors. We applaud Carol for her dedication to the arts. We recently reached out to Carol and asked her to elaborate on bringing the NAP to Avera…
Q. How did you hear about the National Arts Program®?
A. I heard about the NAP at the Society for Arts in Healthcare annual conference in Philadelphia several years ago. I thought the program would be a great opportunity to enhance our current arts in healing programs to reach our staff as well as our patients. However, I waited a few years to get the project underway. Healthcare systems sometimes take a while to get all the appropriate approvals underway before we can start any new programming.
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different from any other art exhibit at Avera Health System?
A. The NAP is different for our organization since we had never done anything focusing on staff and their families’ artwork. Avera has numerous programs set up for our patients, but it was exciting to bring this type of program to our staff. It was also exciting to bring this program to the Midwest since our hospital reaches eastern South Dakota, Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. I think displaying the employee and their family artwork has been so important for staff morale, enthusiasm and support of one another. I have heard so many positive comments about not knowing their co-worker was so talented. The staff are also very proud to display their loved ones artwork. It is reaffirming when staff start asking if we are doing the show again next year. Everyone is also so appreciative of the opening reception and the awards that are given out.
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in this setting is so important?
A. Avera has a long history of supporting the arts in healthcare for our patients, so it was a natural progression for our administration to extend the arts to our employees. The first show was featuring the staff and family members at Avera McKennan Hosptial, but it was so successful that we decided to open it up to all the Avera Health System. It has been a fun and successful way of uniting a large healthcare system.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. Some of my favorite aspects of the NAP is all the help they provide to make this a successful event. Also, the awards, cash prizes and the matching scholarship funds reinforce the art exhibit as a meaningful way to showcase a person’s talents. Also, the fact that they don’t restrict the type of artwork that is allowed to enter. Our exhibits have had some very unique forms of artwork which make it so much more interesting!
Q. Do visitors respond to the employee exhibit?
A. Our visitors enjoy the opportunity to view the show while waiting for their loved ones. Avera has a yearly sculpture walk exhibit that changes out every spring, a rotating art gallery, and a digital community art wall. Our visitors and community have come to expect Avera to offer these arts opportunities, so they readily partake in them. Our volunteers do a great job letting people know when the show is open to the public.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. I love the online registration. However, I do hand enter about 10 registrations a year. These are usually for our older volunteers and family members.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. I use art to help me relax and connect with my children. Any benefits certainly spill over to my professional life where I see the positive impact of being involved and exposed to the arts has on our patients, families and staff.
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts? Are you an artist yourself?
A. I became interested in art therapy after hearing a guest lecturer in an undergraduate class. Combining art, biology and psychology into one field made sense to me and I knew I wanted to work for in a hospital setting. I went onto getting my masters in art therapy and have been working as an art therapist for 21 years. While I dabble in the arts, you would never find my art in a gallery!
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc?
A. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with the NAP and look forward to many years of employee and family art shows. I am excited to see how the program grows within our Avera system!