Medical Humanities in Action Blog

Posted on January 3rd, 2022 by Prabakaran Jayaraman
Danielle Lenz

I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PMHNP) working with children and their families at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Virginia. We are currently in the process of building a psychiatric hospital just for children where we can provide structured inpatient care for our friends experiencing mental health crises. We are also expanding outpatient services, like therapy and medication management. Not only do I have the joy and privilege of providing direct care to patients and their families at appointments and in the medical hospital, I also get to help build and implement our programs for when we open up our doors at the psychiatric hospital. This has required flexibility, creative thinking, and communication skills that my liberal arts education in the Medical Humanities program at IUPUI solidified. Those skills are also invaluable in the patient care setting – I often see people at one of the scariest times of their lives, and it is so important to be able to meet them where they are and put them at ease by being human. There is no formula that teaches us how to forge these kinds of relationships but interacting with the arts, humanities, and social sciences helps nudge us in the right direction.

When I graduated from the program in 2015, I pursued my generalist and advanced practice nursing education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN in an accelerated program for people with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. After completing my nursing education, I worked with patients of all ages with mental health concerns in the medical setting, either in the hospital units or ERs, in a field called consultation-liaison psychiatry. During the COVID pandemic, we saw a rise in child and adolescent visits to the ERs with mental health concerns, and I realized my heart was with kids and their families. I was given the opportunity to be a part of this major mental health undertaking in Virginia and decided to take the leap. I am very grateful for the support I receive, past and present, from the MHHS department and would encourage anyone with an interest to take advantage of this wonderful program.