In December 2020, Dr. Anna Leahy, director of the MFA program at Chapman University, joined California Humanities to facilitate the newest Literature & Medicine site launched at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. The Literature & Medicine program is a nationally recognized humanities-based professional development program for health care workers that engages clinical staff members in reading and discussion programs facilitated by humanities scholars. California Humanities has presented Literature & Medicine in Veterans Affairs Medical Center and public hospitals across California for over a decade.
As our newest facilitator to join this program, Anna was in the unique position of helping us launch a new program site amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Anna’s syllabus for the 2020-2021 season invited the participating health care providers to explore readings that address the themes of anxiety, pandemics, chronic pain, mortality, relationships, and the lives of health care providers, subjects that have impacted their personal and professional lives for the past year.
Reflecting on her experiences facilitating this program, Anna explained, “Talking with physicians about literature and art while we’re all steeped in a global pandemic has been deeply rewarding for me and a respite of sorts for participants. The conversations each month are smart and heartfelt, and I’m heartened by connections we‘re able to make between what we’re reading and our own lives.“
This month, we are happy to share a blog post that Anna has written about her experiences as a new Literature & Medicine facilitator.