Facilitating difficult conversations through art: creating an anti-racism digital image library for health professions education

Kamna S. Balhara, Philip Yenawine, Nathan Irvin, Lauren Eller, Leila Habib, Claire Tatham, Margaret Chisolm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racism has been recognised as a threat to patient outcomes, public health, and the healthcare workforce, and health professions (HP) educators and learners alike are seeking effective ways to teach anti-racism in HP education. However, facilitating conversations on race and racism in healthcare contexts can be challenging. Integrative arts and humanities approaches can engage learners in the critical dialogue necessary to educational interventions focused on anti-racism. Discussions of works of visual art, for instance, can leverage visual art as an avenue for indirection to balance introspection and revelation with psychological safety. Structured pedagogical frameworks that emphasise the perspectives and experiences of participants, such as the Visual Thinking Strategies approach, can lead to open-ended and collaborative discussions where participants can safely explore their assumptions in a space that encourages productive discomfort. Visual arts-based programs on anti-racism in HP are limited, though, in part because no collection of images exists to support HP educators in this endeavour. This paper describes the process of developing a digital image library to support HP educators seeking to generate discussions on race and racism as part of anti-racism curricula. We also highlight common themes, best practices, and potential pitfalls associated with use of the image library.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • anti-racism
  • Humanities
  • medical education
  • visual art
  • visual thinking strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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