|Sandra Bertman, PhD, FT is a leading thanatologist known for using the arts and humanities to promote death education for medical personnel and the general public. Synthesizing arts, literature, spiritual values, and cultural beliefs, Dr. Bertman’s expertise is cultivating the therapeutic imaginations of clinicians through illustrated lecture-presentations and workshops. For most of her career, Bertman was Professor of Humanities in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Graduate School of Nursing, where she founded and directed the Program of Medical Humanities and Arts in Healthcare. Subsequently affiliated with the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College as Research Professor in Palliative Care, and the National Center for Death Education as Distinguished Professor of Thanatology and Arts, she held adjunct appointments at Dartmouth Medical School, Nova Southeastern University and visiting lectureships throughout the States and abroad.
Her publication and media credits include the classic handbooks Facing Death Images, Insights and Interventions, Grief and the Healing Arts: Creativity as Therapy, the film “Dying,” the United Press International award winning radio show “Sing a Song of Dying,” the book One Breath Apart: Facing Dissection, and the forthcoming DVDs and manuals, Art, Spirit and Soul and Reflections on Wholeness.
Currently she tailor-makes seminars for healthcare practitioners: an example devised primarily for the Botswana Nursing and Social Work Associations involved intensive training in grief dynamics, principles of palliative care, multiple loss and compassion fatigue of caregivers affected and infected by HIV/AIDS—(see manual Caring for the Caregivers). Other offerings include “The Awe and Mystery of our Work: Reflective Practice and Renewal,” “Aging, Alzheimer’s and the Human Spirit,” “Global Perspectives on Suffering and End-of-Life Care.” and “The Language of Grief and the Art of Consolation.” Bertman was named “Outstanding Death Educator” by both the Association of Death Education and Counseling and the National Center for Death Education, honored by the University of Massachusetts, at large, for Distinguished Professional and Public Service, recipient of the first Humanities award by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and inducted into honorary membership to Sigma Theta Tau, the International Graduate Nursing Honor Society. She was the 2013 recipient of both the Janice Palmer Award, from the Global Alliance for Arts and Health (formerly Society for Arts in Healthcare) and the Herman Feifel Award from the International Workgroup on Death, Dying and Bereavement for her lifetime achievement and leadership in both fields, was the 2015 honoree for her pioneering work by the Association for Behavioral Science and Medical Education, and is the 2018 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Social Justice award from the National Association for HIV Over Fifty.
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