UAB Arts in Medicine brings joy to those who need it most—see how it’s working


arts in medicine
Just what the doctor ordered. Photo via UAB Arts in Medicine (taken before COVID-19)

It’s no secret that our environment plays a big role in how we feel. But, there’s much more to it. Studies show that during the body’s healing process, certain factors can greatly improve patient outcomes. Incorporating arts in medicine, for example, can be a game-changer. That’s why one local organization is committed to bringing a creative outlet to patients across Birmingham, one song, poem, dance or painting at a time.

UAB Arts in Medicine has served 170,000 across Birmingham

UAB Arts in Medicine
AIM serves the greater Birmingham community. Photo via UAB Arts in Medicine (taken before COVID-19)

UAB Arts in Medicine (AIM) strives to enhance healing and wellness for patients, families, staff and communities through arts and creativity. Started in 2013 as a collaboration between the Alys Stephens Center and UAB Medicine, and founded on evidence-informed practice, AIM is part of a whole-person approach to healthcare that focuses on the mind, body and spirit of patients and caregivers. 

Through work at UAB Hospital and additional partnerships with St. Vincent’s East Behavioral Health and Children’s of Alabama, AIM has served over 170,000 patients, families and staff across Birmingham. Their reach extends beyond healthcare facilities, too. AIM offers workshops for senior adults in HUD-subsidized independent living facilities and in-person and virtual programs for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. 

AIM services are provided by professional artists in residence at UAB hospital with additional services by credentialed creative arts therapists at Children’s of Alabama and St. Vincent’s East. 

Evidence-informed practice

UAB arts in medicine
Just look at this little turkey. Photo via UAB Arts in Medicine (taken before COVID-19)

Studies conducted by the World Health Organization have shown that arts can help manage and prevent mental and physical illness and support healthy aging.

Other research has demonstrated that incorporating arts into a patient’s hospital stay can provide a positive distraction, and can reduce:

  • Anxiety
  • Length of hospital stay
  • Perceived pain and need for pain medication

AIM works closely with UAB departments like the School of Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy (OT) to study the impact of its programs and add to research in the field of Arts and Health. AIM staff also teach a course in the OT program.

“This [Arts in Medicine] should be a standard of care for anyone who suffered from a major injury or accident.”

—Participant, Arts in Medicine

UAB Arts in Medicine’s programs & events

arts in medicine
Creative expression can have incredible benefits to the healing process. Photo via UAB Arts in Medicine (taken before COVID-19)

AIM provides resources within healthcare facilities and beyond. Below are a few of their upcoming programs, and be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram for more.

Virtual Mental Health Monday: In this free monthly event, AIM hosts speakers to explore topics that affect our health and wellness. Tune in to hear from experts in the field. December’s session is all about art therapy & self-compassion.

  • Monday, Dec. 6 | 6PM
  • Register (free—virtual)

StoryPower 2021: Hopes, Wishes, Prayers and Dreams: Storytellers and poets from across the UAB Medicine community share their hopes, wishes, prayers and dreams. Get ready for inspiration, truth telling and bonding over shared experiences.

  • Thursday, Dec. 16 | 12PM
  • Register (free—virtual)

Parkinson’s Dance Class: Dance for Parkinson’s, in partnership with Southern Danceworks, is modeled after an evidence-based program developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson’s group. Class starts with a seated warm-up, then standing and moving across the floor. Bring your care partner along and don’t forget your tennis shoes!

  • Email Lauren at for registration details
  • Classes are $5 each or $50 for a block of classes 

Healing Harmonies Community Choir: Singing is good for the mind, body and spirit, even if you might be a little off-key (like me). This community choir is especially for those impacted by cancer and meets bi-weekly.

How to get involved

Pure magic. Photo via UAB Arts in Medicine (taken before COVID-19)

Aren’t you glad we shared this gem with you? It’s just another example of an incredible healthcare resource we have here in Birmingham. If you or someone you know is a UAB patient that is currently undergoing treatment, simply request an arts in medicine referral from a member of your care team.

Want to join AIM as a volunteer? Email Lauren at for opportunities.

AIM relies on the generosity of sponsors and donors to make these programs available. Help AIM keep these important programs running by making a donation.

Learn more about AIM’s evidence-informed approach to holistic healing on their website.

Sponsored by:

Madison Croxson
Madison Croxson
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