For nearly two centuries, the MUSC College of Medicine has had the missions of educating physicians and caring for patients. Recent research has shown that patient outcomes and their sense of well-being are enhanced by receiving care in an environment enhanced by natural landscaping. With this in mind, MUSC has decided to make its campus into an arboretum.
The mission of the arboretum is to transform the university campus into a place of optimal healing and learning by creating an urban landscape that invigorates, inspires, and teaches through nature. There are many studies and books that have documented improved healing for patients when they are able to see green spaces, trees, flowers, birds, butterflies, and many other natural creations. State-of-the-art medical care is augmented with patient exposure to relaxing and uplifting natural vistas from the windows, entrance halls, terraces, and walkways of the patient care areas. In short, a patient’s healing is enhanced by seeing and being surrounded by nature.
Learning is also enhanced in an environment where there is an inviting setting that encourages thinking and reflection. The warm and soothing natural ambience of an arboretum lead to stress free learning. Some classes can be held outside and walking to and from the various buildings allows for inspired thinking about the subject matter that needs to be mastered. Students and teachers alike prosper in the natural setting conferred by an arboretum.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) understands the link between improved patient care and learning fostered by the surrounding environment. Like many hospitals, urban schools and universities, the campus of MUSC has grown without a coordinated landscape plan despite “master plans” regarding new buildings. The result is that many of the places available to comfort patients and their loved ones are stretches of stark concrete, asphalt and brick, sights unsettling to those who are here to be healed. This has happened through omission of a comprehensive plan that integrates landscape into the environment, a plan created with the knowledge that optimal healing happens in a place where nature can be seen and enjoyed. The creation of the MUSC arboretum corrects this important part of the present and future campus.
In the Spring of 2010, President Ray Greenberg of the Medical University approved the establishment of the Arboretum and began appointing members of the MUSC Arboretum Advisory Board. The initial and still ongoing work was to accomplish those things required for MUSC to be designated a Tree Campus USA, the national arboretum certification. Once this certification is achieved in the Spring of 2013, it will insure a perpetual landscape plan for the campus.
The most important priority of the Arboretum Board is to transform the campus rapidly to achieve the optimal patient care and learning environment for our patients, students, faculty, staff, and visitors. This requires the acquisition and deployment of financial resources that are beyond the means of the University alone. However, there are a number of projects that have been identified that begin to transform the university’s appearance and that will have immediate impact on the sense of patient welfare so important in healing. Philanthropy directed towards this goal is another important reason for the MUSC Arboretum.