Our development process was guided by Kern’s six steps: [Kern et al. 2009].
(1) Problem Identification and General Needs Assessment
In spring 2015, we conducted a focus group of USU students and faculty, asking participants to comment on potential benefits of, and barriers to, opportunities for student engagement with the arts. In addition, participants were asked what, if any, artistic modalities they perceived to be of greatest value for their professional development and wellness.
Increased resilience and enhanced professional development were the most commonly cited potential benefits. The lack of a forum in which to share personal artistic expression and where learners could read, observe, and engage with the artistic expression of others was the most commonly identified limitation. The creation of a student-run literary review was identified as one possible strategy to overcome this limitation. This and other information gathered was used to develop a needs assessment for our targeted learners.
(2) Needs assessment for targeted learners
In summer 2015, we sent a targeted needs assessment to 750 students via electronic survey. This assessment was designed to: (1) identify the degree to which the arts were incorporated into students’ curricula; (2) explore students’ views regarding use of arts as a medium for professional development; (3) identify barriers to engagement with the arts, and (4) explore whether students felt a healthcare student literary review was likely to overcome such barriers.
Among respondents (n = 121, response rate: 16%), 24.8% agreed or strongly agreed that literary or visual arts were included in their curricula. While nearly 55% reported that they had an outlet at their institution where they could express themselves artistically/creatively, fewer than 33% reported regularly engaging in any form of artistic expression.
Eighty-two percent of students reported being at least somewhat likely to read a student-run literary review, and greater than 50% agreed or strongly agreed that the presence of a literary and visual arts review would enhance professional development. Further, 67% agreed or strongly agreed that the presence of a literary arts review would contribute to the cultural identity of the federal healthcare student community.
Students preferred that the literary review be available in print and online formats, that the online version be delivered quarterly, and that it contain poetry, reflective writing, fiction and visual art.
Thereafter, we interviewed eight editors of diverse medical literary journals to identify best practices for creation of a literary review. Interviews were standardized and included questions regarding journal stratification and philosophy, editorial staff composition, roles, and workflow, journal content and formatting, and publication.
(3) Goals and objectives
Based on needs assessment data, we established the goal of our literary review: To nurture and celebrate the finest art of federal healthcare students, to foster empathy and professional development by encouraging reflection on the human condition, and to cultivate a sense of community among federal healthcare students. Our objectives were: After reading the federal healthcare student literary journal, students, as demonstrated by comments offered during subsequent focus groups and/or survey responses will report: (1) an enhanced sense of community identity; (2) an enhanced sense of professional identity; and (3) enhanced empathy for their fellow human beings.
(4) Educational Strategies
To achieve our goals, we endeavored to create a student-run literary review, available in print and online formats. An online presence was necessary to meet the stated needs of our users, to reach users who were not in close proximity to USU, and to help solicit content for future volumes. To prepare the student editorial team for its tasks, we organized a series of workshops taught by faculty advisors with the requisite expertise. Please refer to Table 1 for further description of the workshops.
Informed by survey results and editor interviews, we created an organizational structure for the literary review’s editorial staff. Please refer to Figure 1 for an overview of the organizational structure. Student editors were recruited for each role and standard operating procedures were established. Content was solicited using email, social media and personal networks. The review was primarily student-run, with faculty members available for guidance. Design and layout were completed by the editorial team, with the help of a professional graphic designer. In May 2016, the literary review, Progress Notes, was produced in print and online versions. (https://goo.gl/FPKSwn)
We received 71 submissions: 28 visual art pieces, 12 reflections, 22 poems, and 9 fiction stories. Our final publication included 19 visual art pieces, 5 reflections, 11 poems, and 5 fiction stories, for an acceptance rate of 56%.
(6) Evaluation and Feedback
The impact of this intervention on federal healthcare student empathy, resilience, and professional identity among healthcare students is yet to be determined, as the process of soliciting post-publication feedback is ongoing (see below).