Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 483–501 | Cite as

Medical Students’ Efforts to Integrate and/or Reclaim Authentic Identity: Insights from a Mask-Making Exercise

  • Johanna ShapiroEmail author
  • Julie Youm
  • Michelle Heare
  • Anju Hurria
  • Gabriella Miotto
  • Bao-Nhan Nguyen
  • Tan Nguyen
  • Kevin Simonson
  • Artur Turakhia


Medical students’ mask-making can provide valuable insights into personal and professional identity formation and wellness. A subset of first- and second-year medical students attending a medical school wellness retreat participated in a mask-making workshop. Faculty-student teams examined student masks and explanatory narratives using visual and textual analysis techniques. A quantitative survey assessed student perceptions of the experience. We identified an overarching theme: “Reconciliation/reclamation of authentic identity.” The combination of nonverbal mask-making and narrative offers rich insights into medical students’ experience and thinking. This activity promoted reflection and self-care, while providing insight regarding personal and professional development.


Arts and medicine Arts and health Medical education Medical/health humanities 



We gratefully acknowledge the medical students who contributed their creative products to this research.


This project received partial funding from the University of California Irvine, School of Medicine Office of Medical Education.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interests

Johanna Shapiro declares that she has no conflict of interest. Julie Youm declares that she has no conflict of interest. Michelle Heare declares that she has no conflict of interest. Anju Hurria declares that she has no conflict of interest. Gabriella Miotto declares that she has no conflict of interest. Bao-Nhan Nguyen declares that he has no conflict of interest. Tan Nguyen declares that he has no conflict of interest. Kevin Simonson declares that he has no conflict of interest. Atur Turakhia declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Shapiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julie Youm
    • 2
  • Michelle Heare
    • 3
  • Anju Hurria
    • 4
  • Gabriella Miotto
    • 5
  • Bao-Nhan Nguyen
    • 2
  • Tan Nguyen
    • 1
  • Kevin Simonson
    • 6
  • Artur Turakhia
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of California Irvine, School of MedicineOrangeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of California, Irvine School of MedicineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of California, Davis School of MedicineSacramentoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorUC Irvine Medical CenterOrangeUSA
  5. 5.The Children’s ClinicLong BeachUSA
  6. 6.University of California Riverside, School of MedicineRiversideUSA

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