Nurses & the Humanities


Nurses & The Humanities was founded in June 2006 to present programs that demonstrate and encourage the healing power of the arts and the humanities for caregivers and their patients.

Programs addressing diverse themes of nursing and the humanities (art, literature, history, philosophy, music, theater, and dance) have various formats, including lectures, workshops, classes, and excursions. The programs are geared towards nurses, caregivers, medical professionals, and nursing students, but are open to the general public.

Our Mission

The Hektoen Institute Nurses and Humanities Advisory Committee provides humanistic, creative and interactive educational opportunities to clinicians. We endeavor to expand imaginative horizons and to explore the arts as a source of healing for the self and for providing compassionate and holistic care to others. Our interactive arts-focused programs offer opportunities to network outside the health care arena and to explore the untapped healing potential of creativity.

Our Vision

The Hektoen Institute Nurses and Humanities Advisory Committee believes nurses need to balance the science of nursing with an appreciation of the arts that offers them new strategies for self-care and that expands their repertoire of resources for holistic caregiving. The Advisory Committee embraces the joy of artistic expression, heightened sensory perception, and exposure to the vast realm of aesthetic possibilities as essential to the art of nursing.

For more information: Contact Sandy Gaynor at

The Art and Science of Sustainability

WHEN:Thursday, May 5, 2016
TIME: 5:30- 7:30pm
WHERE: Loyola University Chicago Lake Shore Campus, 6300 block of North Kenmore
(See campus map Institute of Environmental Sustainability is #38 on a map.  It is pedestrian-only access.)
REGISTRATION & RSVP: The event is free.  Program Donations accepted on site.
RSVP ASAP with: Karen Egenes:  Everyone is welcome to the program.
RSVP is required before May 1st
PARKING: Parking Garage is accessible through 6400 Sheridan Rd at Devon entrance immediately west of Mundelein Sky Bldg.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Accessible by CTA Red Line Loyola Station. The CTA bus 147 also stops at the campus

Experience the art and science of sustainability. Loyola University has created a building to support life and to function as an example for the future for producing food and shelter that respects the earth. Our presenter truly brings the science of sustainability to life. Please join us for this program that blends art and science in architecture while promoting health and sustaining life.

Presented By: Nancy Tuchman, PhD

Nancy Tuchman, Ph.D. is a Professor of Aquatic Ecology in the Department of Biology and Founding Director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago. In 2002-2003 she served as a Program Officer in the Ecosystem Studies Program at the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C., her vision for IES is to raise public awareness of the unsustainable consumption of our Earth’s natural resources with the goal of transforming behavior, developing policy, and inspiring and preparing next generation science-based environmental leaders., IES has developed several flagship programs including producing biodiesel which converts waste vegetable oil into fuel and using waste glycerin to produce soap and growing food organically at our 4-acre student-run farm and on our urban campus gardens. As Co-Director of the International Jesuit Ecology Project Dr. Tuchman was involved in publishing Healing Earth a free online environmental textbook written by over 90 contributors around the world.

Upcoming Events

The Food BuddhaFood Buddha

When: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Where: the Driehaus Center, 6200 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660

Rodelio Aglibot, The Food Buddha, is a critically acclaimed chef and founder of ‘In Chef’s Hands’, a non profit organization which creates food therapy and educational experiences for people with special needs, illness, physical limitations, or disabilities. Join us for our educational program, where Chef Aglibot will teach us to :

  • Understand and utilize how the five senses are incorporated in the culinary arts
  • Comprehend the therapeutic experience achieved through food preparation, tasting, and meal sharing
  • Gain understanding of how ‘In Chef’s Hands’ has achieved an opportunity for health with people with special needs, physical limitations or disabilities.


Past Events

Words That Heal – The Poetry of Nursing

images02242015When: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM – Noon
Where: Poetry  Foundation, 61 W. Superior, Chicago, IL

Nursing is an art in the fullest sense.  Because our nursing practice embraces the whole human experience, our spirit must be nurtured by more than science.  Poetry fills the cracks and illuminates the darkness. Metaphor allows nurses the figurative expression needed to meld challenge and compassion as we and  our patients face the fragility of physical bodies and the loss of control.  Join us in exploring the ways poetry links spirit and body to renew ourselves and to be fully present for others.  We will hear from established nurse poets and experience connecting our own hands and hearts with words.


  • Reading by Jeanne Bryner, RN, BA, CEN; Joan Callahan, MSW, RN; Shirley Stephenson, MFA, FNP.
  • Audience will be invited to engage in guided writing exercises.
  • Guided tour of the poetry foundation.

Price: $20; Students: $10 – Make checks payable to Hektoen Institute and mail to Hektoen Institute, Attention to Rachel Baker, 2240 W. Ogden, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60612
RSVP required before Feb. 14th –  Space is limited
Mary Ann McDermott:

Parking is limited in the area. 
Public transportation:  Red line, Chicago Ave stop or # 22 Bus to Huron and Clark/Dearborn

Enriching Our Lives: Art Conveying a Sense of Joy, Health, & Wellness

Georges-Seurat_000Join us for a guided tour of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Savor how art enriches our lives by conveying a sense of joy, health, & wellness. Tour led by Ms. Kate Gibbs of the Art Institute of Chicago

When: Thursday, November 6 – 5:15 PM to 7:00 PM

Where: Art Institute of Chicago

Meet inside the first floor lobby on Michigan Ave. at 5:15pm.

111 S. Michigan Ave. – Chicago, Illinois 60611


  • Guided tour of the Art Institute
  • Optional: Informal discussion following the tour
    at the University Club (1/2 block north of the Art Institute), 76 E. Monroe, 2nd floor Bar (cash bar)

 Proof – A performance & conversations about mental illness

ProofSmallIn collaboration with Loyola University Department of Performing Arts

When: Sunday October 5, 2014, 1 to 4 PM

Catherine is the twenty- something daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician and University professor. The discovery of a notebook leaves Catherine questioning: How much of her father’s madness-or genius-will she inherit?

Join us for a Sunday afternoon performance of Proof, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play by David Auburn. The play will be preceeded by a coffee/deserts reception as well as an introduction to the performance by the Director, Jonathan Wilson.

Program of the afternoon:

  • Reception and Director Wilson’s Remarks: 1PM Palm Court Mundelein Center
  • Performance: PROOF, 2PM – Newhart Family Theater Mundelein Center
  • Post performance discussion with actors, immediately following the show – Newhart Family Theater Mundelein Center

Storytelling and Inclusion – Performance and discussion by Erasing the Distance

A program presented by Chicago Community Group of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Chicago IONS) and co-sponsored by the Hektoen Institute Nurses & the Humanities Group.

When: Sunday, May 18th, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. (doors will open for refereshments and social networking at 2:30)

Where: The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago, 7574 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL. East Parking entrance.

About the program

Erasing the Distance Founder and Artistic Director Brighid O’Shaughnessy will lead us in a storytelling workshop around our connection to those who have depression, substance abuse, or other mental health issues. The storytelling learning experience culminates in a moving performance from her company members.

About Erasing The Distance

Founded in 2005, Erasing the Distance is a non-profit arts organization based in Chicago that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.

About the Brighid O’Shaughnessy

Brighid O’Shaughnessy is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Erasing the Distance (ETD). Since 2005, Brighid has reached over 40,000 people with theatrical performances about mental health issues that she has acted in, directed, devised and/or produced. A nationally sought after speaker and instructor, she has taught the ETD methodology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology for the last several years as well as at University of Illinois at Chicago. Brighid was granted DePaul University’s prestigious David O. Justice Award for her use of theatre to educate communities about mental illness in non-traditional and creative ways. She was also chosen by Extra Mile America as one of 200 heroic leaders in the United States making a difference in their communities and received a 3Arts Vision Award to support her artistic work at ETD. Her experience as a director, actor and teacher committed to social change has spanned over 15 years. Brighid taught acting at Chicago’s Acting Studio for 5 years and has performed at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, and Profiles Theatre. She graduated with a M.A. from DePaul University and a B.A. in Theatre from Santa Clara University, and studied extensively with The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Narrative skills: conversations about generational work issues in the healthcare setting

Goodman_Exterior2Presented in partnership with the Goodman Theatre

The workshop is led by Willa Taylor, Director of Education & Community Engagement, Goodman Theatre

Saturday, March 8, 2013 – Time: 10:00 AM to 1

Location: The Goodman Theatre – 170 N.
Dearborn, Chicago

The reward of such deep listening is finding
comfort and healing in the surprise that our stories are really all the same.
Listening to another’s story shows us aspects of ourselves that are difficult to
see –
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Workshop description:

In this three-hour workshop, we will explore generational issues in the workplace. We will engage in activities that will help both the experienced and the new nurse communicate on a different level. We will explore the following questions: How can multi-generations of caregivers discuss patient experiences? How does the experienced nurse use and embrace the patient’s story with the new nurse? Often the nurse must put the story together herself, the patients frequently provide us only bits and pieces of their illness story. How can caregivers work with their patients to tell their story to make it unique? And how can the older nurse and the younger nurse begin a conversation that revolves around sharing the patient’s story? What is our responsibility as mentors? How do we perceive our history and experience in relation to how we view the job?

The Director of Education for the Goodman Theatre will guide participants through some of the exercises and processes that help actors “get into” their characters. Come for a different kind of “nursing development” that is brought to you through a partnership between Hektoen Nurses and the Humanities and the Goodman Theatre.

The play, Luna Gale

We highly encourage workshop participants to attend the Goodman play Luna Gale by Rebecca Gilman. The play explores the issues of Caroline, a social worker who is working with two drug-addicted teens accused of neglecting their baby. When she “follows protocol” and places their daughter in the care of the grandmother, Caroline sparks a family conflict that exposes a shadowy, secretive past. Powerful and heart stirring, Luna Gale is an unforgettable tale of faith, family and the future of one innocent child. This play will set the stage for workshop participants in exploring these issues.

Transformation through art – Arts Day

Celebrating the ways in which art informs our healing practice

Keynote speaker – Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR

Art therapist/Tattoo artist, and Founder of Sacred Transformations

Thursday, March 6

Presentation: 2:00 – 3:00 PM – Workshop: 3:00 – 4:30 PM

UIC College of Nursing, 845 S. Damen Ave. 1st floor

Complimentary – RSVP to

This program is presented by UIC College of Nursing and sponsored by the Hektoen Institute and Dean’s Office, CON, GSNO.

Day of the Dead: A Mexican Celebration of Death and Re-Birth

Guided tour of the Day of the Dead exhibition – Post tour discussion – Lunch

unam-dia-de-los-muertos-022_CaleyMcIntyre_larger_000When: Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time: 10am – 12 noon

Where: National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago, IL

Nurses and health care providers are frequently faced with families, patients and loved one addressing death. We witness families handling death is a very personal manner, many times dependent on their religion and culture.
We invite you to experience the Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, an exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art to learn how mourners remember their loved ones. Altars, installations, popular art, and fine art by more than sixty Mexican artists from both sides of the border are part of this remarkable exhibition.

We will start with a guided tour of the museum special exhibit, Dia de los Muertos, to understand the significance of this Mexican tradition. We will then conclude with a discussion and question and answer session geared to healthcare professionals led by Frank Gonzalez-Crussi, MD, Emeritus professor of pathology at Northwestern University. Dr. Crussi’s death-related activities as a pathologist, and his literary reflections as a writer, were the subject of a BBC TV show on the Day of the Dead. After the program you are welcome to continue the discussion over an optional luncheon in the Pilsen neighborhood at a nearby restaurant, Nuevo Leone.

Hope, Health, and Healing on the Tiber:

The Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Aesculapius and the Basilica of St. Bartholomew

701Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time: 5PM, refreshments – 5:30PM – 6:30 PM, presentation

Location: Hektoen Institute of Medicine – 2240 W. Ogden, 2nd Floor –

Chicago, IL 60612

Speakers: Mary Ann McDermott RN, EdD, FAAN Professor Emerita Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago; Nurse Educator Part time, Edward V. Hines
Veterans Administration Hospital, Hines, IL and Kathleen Taylor, RN, BSN, MS,
Nurse Informaticist, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North
Chicago, IL

Co-presented with the Chicago Society for the History of Medicine & the Humanities

What images come to mind when you hear the word “Rome”…the Colosseum, The Forum, St. Peter’s? In this presentation, we will examine less well-known landmarks of historical and artistic significance: a hospital, a church and a well! These landmarks reside on the Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) of Rome. During the Roman Empire, a temple was built on the island and dedicated to Aesculapius, the Greek God of medicine and healing. People came to the island to ask for healing from their illnesses. During plagues, the sick were isolated and often cured. In the tenth century, Roman Emperor Otto III, built the Basilica of St. Bartholomew over the Temple of Aesculapius. Inside of this church stands a stone well dating back to the 10th century, the water from which is considered miraculous. Today a hospital operated by the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli) founded in 1584 dominates the island. A church built into the hospital as well as a chapel house beautiful works of healing art. During WWII the hospital served as a refuge for many from the neighboring Jewish ghetto. In this presentation, we will highlight the artistic, archeological and historical significance of the island as well as its’ present importance as a place of health, hope and healing.


Past Hektoen events

Advisory Committee

President: Sandra Gaynor, RN, PhD., NorthPark University

  • Kathleen Blanchfield, RN, PhD, Lewis University
  • Joan Callahan, RN, MSW, Sacred Heart School
  • Karen Egenes, RN, EdD, Loyola University Niehoff School of Nursing
  • Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD, UIC College of Nursing
  • Diana Heiman, RN, CEN, Lutheran General Hospital
  • Gloria Henderson, RN, PhD, UIC College of Nursing
  • Mary Ann McDermott, RN, EdD, Loyola University Niehoff School of Nursing
  • Linda Olson, RN, PhD, National Council of State Boards of Nursing
  • Rachel Renee, UIC College of Nursing
  • Lynda Slimmer, RN, PhD, UIC College of Nursing
  • Carolyn Smeltzer, RN, EdD
  • Anna Stachyra, PhD, APRN-BC, Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital

Nurses & the Humanities Press

  • Feb. 5, 2007 issue of Advance For Nurses: Revival: Broad-minded Professionals Bring the Arts (and humanities) to the Science by Barbara Drosey;
  • March 10, 2008 issue of Nursing Spectrum: Chicago Program Gives RNs the Tools to Care for Themselves and Others by Barbara Kois.
  • Sept. 15, 2008 issue of Advance For Nurses: Nurses in the City of Light: an Art & Healing Pilgrimage to France by Rachel Baker.