Sarah de Leeuw Supervises UBC Medical School Student Melissa Mantifel in Exploration of Humanities in Medical Education through Ceramic Art

Sarah de Leeuw, who supervises humanities and arts FLEX projects, worked with Melissa Matifel to explore humanities in medical education through ceramic art.

FLEX (Flexible and Enhanced Learning) is a series of three courses in Years 1, 2 and 4 of the renewed UBC medical undergraduate program. FLEX offers undergraduate medical students exciting opportunities to pursue various scholarly activities.

Here’s how Melissa described their UBC UGME FLEX 499 Project:

In my fourth year of medical school at UBC, we had the flexibility to pursue our interests in a health related research project. My goal for this project was to better understand how participating in the humanities such as ceramic arts can teach skills difficult to learn in traditional science disciplines (eg, flexibility, uncertainty) and the benefits to myself and my clinical practice.

I have been practicing pottery for five years and it continues to be a humbling process. The techniques are very different from other art forms and requires a completely new skill set. There is always a degree of uncertainty which is challenging for a recovering perfectionist: adapting to the needs of different clays, problem solving mistakes, when to start over, and ultimately relinquishing control to the kiln. There are many ways ceramic art overlaps with clinical practice, and I will explore how learning these skills in a fun, low stakes, creative environment has benefitted me over the years. The Messy Cup represents making something ‘perfect’ and then adding slip to make it messy and imperfect.

Check out more of Melissa’s FLEX project and amazing ceramic work here: