Compassionate Touch



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Short film resulting from UNE student project Compassionate Touch. UNE Dental Medicine students collaborated with Creative and Fine Arts faculty and Dental Medicine faculty to create the film Compassionate Touch, focusing on five stages associated with anxious dental patients, as depicted through artwork, interprofessional interviews and scholarly sources. The film highlights the current understanding and management of the dental needs for high fear patients before, during, and after their visit to the dentist, and how interprofessional health care providers can assist patients to achieve quality patient-centered care.

Background and Process:

Artist and UNE faculty Alex Rheault approached the College of Dental Medicine in the fall of 2015 about collaborating for UNE Interprofessional Art Exhibition: Wonder. Rheault’s idea was to create an artwork informed by CDM faculty and students that would explore the fear and anxiety many people associate with dental care. The artist connected with students Jessfor Baugh and Riddhi Daftary. Through meetings emphasizing free-form discussion—with Rheault often drawing as a part of the idea exchange—an interdisciplinary collaboration was born.

Baugh and Daftary identified five stages associated with anxious and fearful dental patients: Listen to Identify, Validation, Everyone has a Story, Not Alone and The Compassionate Touch. These stages had been highlighted previously in their education, but the students chose unique names, for artistic reasons. The stages became the structure for Compassionate Touch, a video directed by Baugh and Daftary with the guidance of David Pier, D.M.D., Michael Truscott, D.M.D. and many other CDM and IPEC colleagues.

In the tradition of Expressionism and Surrealist Automatic Drawing, Rheault and Baugh created drawings, paintings and prints that became the visual core of the video. Daftary (who has an undergraduate degree in psychology) wrote expressively about the five stages and scripted the video. Original music by Baugh and fellow student Chelsea Toussaint, and by Cameron Grover ’13 and Robert Marus, D.D.S., enhanced the visuals and interviews, and Baugh compiled and edited everything into the form presented here.

Daftary explains "the interdisciplinary initiative is to understand and manage the dental needs of high fear patients by incorporating the arts, music, interviews from dental clinicians, and scholarly sources. We want to promote and improve quality, patient-centered approaches for healthcare professionals across disciplines. As dental students who do get access to phenomenal educators and knowledge, we find that it’s our duty to raise awareness and ignite change within ourselves and beyond. This film is therefore dedicated to our well-intentioned educators who impact us with their compassionate touch. We learn from you every day."


Motion Pictures

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dental medicine, art, film, dental patients, anxiety, fear


Dentistry | Film Production | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Interprofessional Education | Printmaking

Related Materials

The grant application for this IPEC mini-grant can be found here:

Compassionate Touch was also submitted to the University of New England's student-edited journal of narrative medicine, Akesis:

Video also available on YouTube:


UNE faculty members Alex Rheault, David Pier, and Michael Truscott were affiliated with this project.

UNE community members Jeffrey B. Finegold, Lakshmi S. Garladinne, Barry C. Saltz, Rashidah T. Wiley, Rebecca Filan, Jay Beauchemin, Elias Mikael Chatah, Namita Khandelwal, Michelle Tsao, Cameron Grover, and Chelsea Toussaint were also involved in the film's creation.

This was an interprofessional collaboration between UNE College of Dental Medicine and College of Arts & Sciences. Funding provided by the UNE Interprofessional Educational Collaborative, with support from the UNE Office of Research and Scholarship (Ed Bilsky), Brian K. Dallaire PharmD, and Deborah Dallaire. The creators gratefully acknowledge the aforementioned supporters and the entire team of Compassionate Touch for their contribution and encouragement towards the collaboration.

Compassionate Touch
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