Russell named a Harvard Macy fellow

As a fellow, Stephen Russell, M.D., professor with the UAB Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, will design and pilot a new UAB program using art works from artists of color to teach medical students about diversity and clinical insights.
Written by: Dylan Baggiano
Media contact: Shannon Thomason

University of Alabama at Birminghams.russell.2Stephen Russell, M.D. Professor Stephen Russell, M.D., has been named a Harvard Macy fellow for the upcoming 2021-2022 class. 

This professional development opportunity was awarded to 15 doctors from medical centers across the United States. It will provide Russell with 12 months of instruction in a humanities-based, art-in-medicine curricula, combining online and in-person instruction, he says.

Russell, a professor of general internal medicine in the Department of Medicine and Pediatrics, was chosen as a fellow “based on the work that has been done at UAB since 2011 in the School of Medicine’s ‘Prescribing Art’ Special Topics class.” Russell adapted the class into a “first-of-its-kind” art course to fit virtual learning standards via Zoom during spring 2020, as COVID-19 impacted learning.

This spring, he taught his third semester of “Prescribing Art: How Observation Enhances Medicine,” instructing medical students to recognize bias, delve into meanings and address racial inequalities by identifying these elements within paintings such as “The Doctor” by Sir Luke Fildes and “Girl in the Garden” by Mary Cassatt.

As a Harvard Macy fellow, Russell will design and pilot a new program on campus, The Da Vinci Program, or Diversity and Visual Instruction: New Clinical Insights. The program will “use works from artists of color from the collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art and UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts to compare first impressions of the works to a closer examination of the work, and artist,” Russell said.

As students pause to study certain works, they will have greater insight into the themes that artists convey and will exercise empathy, allowing them to become more compassionate caregivers throughout their medical careers.

The Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Professional and Academic Development and the Harvard Macy Institute offer a longitudinal fellowship for health professions educators in art museum-based health professions education. The fellowship is based at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, with visits to other area museums. The fellowship introduces innovative ways to use the art museum environment to advance health professions educational goals.