Tackling the taboo of cancer through contemporary art: an integrative education programme that explores the universal human experience of cancer

General Overview

While medical and nursing students receive comprehensive instruction on the molecular intricacies of cancer, they often lack exposure to its emotional, social, and psychological dimensions.

This project seeks to bridge this gap by integrating an art-centric educational programme that unites healthcare professionals, students, and patients. By harnessing art as a universal language, the initiative aims to cultivate empathetic healthcare practitioners who approach their work holistically, caring not just for the disease but for the individual battling it.

Purpose and Significance

The primary goal is to enhance students' empathy and psychological resilience, ultimately benefiting their well-being as future medical professionals. Simultaneously, the project aims to pioneer an art-based educational approach applicable across diverse disciplines. The outcomes are intended to resonate widely within EUniWell universities through exhibitions and educational materials, extending the impact beyond immediate participants.

Implementation Method and Timeline

The project, led by medical professionals from Semmelweis University in collaboration with educators and students from the University of Florence, University of Murcia, and Lund University, will enlist visual artists and art historians. Working groups at each university will facilitate the exchange of personal experiences among patients, experts, and students through online consultations. Artists will then create works inspired by these experiences, forming a bridge between subjective narratives and artistic expression. These artworks, alongside the shared stories, will be woven into educational materials.

The culmination of the project will be a research-based, site-specific art exhibition hosted at Semmelweis University, Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, with satellite exhibitions at partner universities.

Expected Outcomes

This innovative initiative aims to deepen medical and nursing students' understanding of the human aspects of cancer, supplementing their theoretical knowledge with the emotional nuances portrayed through visual art. Beyond academia, the project seeks to empower participating patients and other contributors to better comprehend and accept their circumstances. The educational materials produced will be integrated into medical education, preserving the inherently human dimension of medicine amidst its rapid scientific evolution.

Ultimately, this project aspires to underscore the efficacy of infusing art into medical education and advocates for its broader application across various fields. By breaking the silence and stigma surrounding cancer, the initiative seeks to foster a compassionate and holistic approach within the healthcare community.


Richard Kiss (Semmelweis University)