Ambassador Interview: Jill Sonke

NOAH has recruited a select group of leaders and pioneers in the field of Arts in Health to serve as Ambassadors for NOAH. These Ambassadors represent NOAH to the field of Arts in Health in the United States and to their local networks, and serve as an outside advisory group to the NOAH board. These individuals have shaped the field of Arts in Health and continue to display extraordinary dedication to its growth and success. We are grateful for their support!

Over the next several months we will be publishing profiles on each of these notable individuals, many of whom you can meet and network with at our conference this September.

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Your name and qualifications:

Jill Sonke, MA, PhD candidate in Arts and Public Health

Your Occupations: Director, University of Florida Arts in Medicine; Director, UF Health Arts in Medicine

Your website: http://artsinmedicine.ufhealth.org/

Describe a typical work day:

A typical day involves a dynamic blend of administration, research, teaching, and support of faculty and staff. I work across campus and the hospital, so it also involves lots of biking up and down the hill! I spend lots of time with faculty, students, and clinical and research partners.

How did you become involved in the field of Arts in Health?

Early in my life, I was headed towards a career in medicine, and then I started dancing and took a sharp turn down that road. After dancing professionally in New York for 5 years, I came to Gainesville, Florida for what I thought would be a short time. The program at Shands was just starting, and I was so excited about this opportunity. I became an artist in residence, and was also teaching dance at the University of Florida. This gave me the opportunity to start thinking about developing coursework, and how my roles at the hospital and the University could relate to one another.

Could you describe your first encounter with an Arts in Health conference or event? Any meaningful experiences that you’d like to share?

My first experience with a conference in the field was one that we hosted here in Gainesville in 1995. It was thrilling at that time to see that a professional field was developing, and to learn that despite our feelings of isolation, many people were having the same ideas that we were. When I did go to my first SAH conference, it was an even greater experience of the same kind to see not only people from the United States, but other countries developing really grounded and well-rounded programs. That first conference felt like finding my people; it was an opportunity to share enthusiasm and discovery and intention. It was so exciting and important.

What aspect of your Arts in Health work resonates the most with you?

I would say that right now, I’m very excited about our arts in community health and public health work. I’m really thinking about the arts and how they work with health communication. I’m particularly intrigued by that. I also am deeply engaged with and excited by education in our discipline. The field and programs are at a point where we can think about foundational theory and scope of practice, and we are now poised to really advance professionalism in the field.

What advice would you give to someone planning to enter the field of Arts in Health as a professional?

Definitely connect with NOAH! It’s so important to be a part of a community and network. Really look at the resources that are now available in the field related to education and training opportunities. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others for advice. There’s certainly lots of room for creativity and innovation, but we’re also at the point where we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Are you planning on attending NOAH’s inaugural Arts in Health conference this September? If so, what are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I’m absolutely attending the conference. I’m most excited about reconnecting with the field and feeling the tangible energy of our professional community.

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