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Night Float, First Shift: Creating a platform for Medical Arts and Health Humanities in an Undergraduate Medical Program 

Every university probably has its own life sciences or STEM research journal, whether it’s student run or faculty specific. Some medical programs, like ours, even have a dedicated medical sciences journal. However, how many undergraduate medical programs have official publications dedicated to the medical humanities? The arts and humanities often get relegated to extracurricular activity in medicine but it is increasingly clear that having a creative, humanistic framework towards clinical medicine creates well-rounded students and physicians (1).

Arts and humanities are an integral part of medicine and medical education. They can help students learn to empathize with patients through storytelling and reflection, improve observational skills, and convey complex humanitarian messages (2,3). For the healthcare physician, they can also improve well-being and help rebalance busy lives. Creative arts and writing promote humanism through explorative and critical dialogues between learners navigating healthcare landscapes.

We started Night Float as McMaster Medicine’s first medical arts and humanities publication. Night float is an alternate call schedule for medical trainees. Irregular work hours and occasional lack of sleep are often positioned as part of the dedication that our career demands. As medical students this future is a source of both anticipation and anxiety for many of us. Instead of a 24-hour call shift every 3-5 days, night float is meant to relieve residents with regular evening shifts to decrease fatigue and optimize patient care.

We chose the title because it represents an aspect of medicine that is as grueling as it is rewarding, but also brings to mind a change in perspective, has an air of mystery, and fuels the imagination. While the professional responsibilities we slowly take on are not something that can easily be untangled from other aspects of our lives, they should not consume us.

The spirit of this publication is wonder and reflection. We want to refresh our peers and inspire them to look at their own journey in medicine, ready to subvert the obvious and uncover new perspectives. Ultimately, we hope to connect our community through artistic exploration. We proposed the idea to our classmates and asked for submissions of personal reflections, poems, artwork and photographs related to their experience as medical students.

This led to the creation of the first issue “First Shift: Our Stories” published in February 2020. It can be accessed online at

We’re happy that our first issue is being recognized internationally and honored to receive the AMH medical humanities grant. We hope to create longevity and sustainability for our publication through official endorsement by the MD office and/or partnership with our program’s medical sciences journal. And we intend to pass this legacy on to future classes to carry on the spirit of our publication.

We truly believe that in addition to clinical or academic medicine, creativity should be promoted and celebrated on our pathway to practice. After all, medicine is a science, an art, and above all a human interaction.

Biography: Fei, Adhora, and Veronica are second-year medical students at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Canada. They founded Night Float as well as the MacMed Arts Interest Group. They hope to continue creating and promoting arts and humanities initiatives in their future training.


  1. Gaeta C, Cesarine J. A Novel Call to Fix Medical Education: Pragmatic Steps to Encourage Dialogue and Advocacy for Providers and Medical Students. Cureus [Internet]. [cited 2020 Mar 29];12(1). Available from:
  2. Scott PA. The relationship between the arts and medicine. Medical Humanities. 2000 Jun 1;26(1):3–8.
  3. monteadmin. Why We Need the Arts in Medicine [Internet]. Fine Art Photography. 2015 [cited 2020 Mar 29]. Available from:


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