My entire 35-year career as a chiropractor has been dedicated to helping people improve and maintain their health. However, over the years I have observed –with increasing frustration and dismay—the decline in the general health status of Americans. Even though I have helped many individuals improve their health through lifestyle choices, I have come to believe that this is not enough, because many health problems stem from conditions that need to be addressed on a national or even global level.
Simultaneously with operating my private practice, I have continued my childhood passion for theater through involvement with community and educational drama programs. However, my professional life and my avocational life continued on separate, if related, tracks. Little did I know when I started studying the Norwegian language as an Access student at the University of Washington in 2012 that I would find a way to merge these two enduring paths in my life.
What a joy it was, then, to discover, through my studies in the Scandinavian Studies (thank you, Prof. Gunn!), that there has emerged in the past few decades a new academic discipline known as medical (or health) humanities, and that the Scandinavian countries have emerged as leaders in this field, especially with regard to the use of the arts as a tool for health promotion. This shift in policy, and the research upon which it is based, served as the basis for my master’s thesis. As I continue my studies as a Ph.D. student, I hope to study and do research in Norway on theater-in-health to deepen my understanding of how this has happened, and what is driving the movement.
Meanwhile, I collaborated with a long-time associate in creative endeavors, Pamela Gerke, to form a non-profit organization dedicated to the principles of health promotion via the arts, HEARTS: Health Enriched by the Arts (www.HEARTSHealthArts.org).