Research Fellow 2021-2022: Shreya Srivastava

Credit: Matt Milless

Shreya Srivastava is a second-year medical student at Albany Medical College. She graduated from Union College with a BS in Biology and Music along with a minor in World Musics and Cultures and completed a MBA in healthcare administration from Clarkson University. Shreya trained in the South Indian Classical Dance form of Bharata Natyam through the Natya Dharmi Foundation in Okemos, Michigan under the guidance of Guru Sandhya Sree Athmakuri. She completed her Bharata Natyam Arangetram in 2014 and continues to perform and hold workshops on Indian Classical Dance. Along with Bharata Natyam, Shreya played in a Japanese Drumming (Taiko) ensemble for three years and continues to play Western Classical piano. 

Research Project

“Tradition” is a dynamic concept — it is rooted in the practices of the past, yet it continues to evolve and reshape as culture, society, and community change with time. Our interpretation of tradition also changes as we enter different phases of our lives. Human health is quite similar to tradition, as it never remains static and continues to develop as we enter the aging process — a process which forces many of us to re-interpret our appreciation of life. Medicine, therefore, can be most effective when it recognizes that a patient’s health is a continuum of their life; treating and caring for patients requires a holistic approach, one that connects the past, present, and future. Traditional art is a powerful tool that can be used to explore that continuum as it often expresses ideas rooted in culture and society and can reflect the progression of human life. Such tools are crucial to helping patients, health professionals, and anyone in the medical field develop an understanding of integrated and holistic health care. 

My project is on narrative dance medicine and the impact it can have on cultural competency among medical students. Narrative dance medicine uses traditional dance forms to express ideas related to health and medicine. Traditional dance forms in particular generate important conversations about culture and may be effective in challenging medical students’ perceptions of culture and society. These benefits of narrative dance medicine suggest that it can be an effective way of enhancing the exposure to cultural competency in medical education, which is essential for future physicians. This project explores the following questions: What impact can narrative dance medicine have on a medical student’s understanding of culture? Are there any benefits of using narrative dance medicine in medical school curriculums?