Will You Take a Look at That!

Here we are again. Another Monday, another blog. Even bloggers passionate about their subjects can suffer the Monday blues, although in this case I’ll bet it has to do with my CKD reduced energy level. I’d just mentioned to Bear that all I want to do is sit in the easy chair he got me last year and read the book Abby got me for Christmas while drinking coffee… well, my remaining eight ounces for the day anyway.CoffeeCupPopCatalinStock

So I decided we’d do something a little different today. Back on March 5, 2012, I blogged about doctors being taught to be mindful. The blog was basically a New York Times article about just that at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/teaching-doctors-to-be-mindful/?smid=tw-nytimeshealth&seid=auto.

I’ve noticed your comments about your doctors missing this or that which made me realize – yet again – that the usual 15 minutes allotted to each patient simply may not be enough time to really observe what’s going on with you, the patient. But what could be done about that?

I was having brunch with a friend visiting from Dallas and her family when the subject arose. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were the one who brought it up. But what did surprise me was that as a research assistant at the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History, she was involved in this program. I 10341870_10103713883125341_1961496384992168845_nwas flabbergasted and knew I had to share this with you. (That’s my daughter, Abby, on the left with the author as they celebrated their Paris trip).

The Art of Observation: Art Museums Partner with Medical Schools to Teach Doctors How to Look

By Katrina Saunders

To all who have felt the healing power from a visit to your local museum, the benefits of the art of looking are currently being explored on a much larger scale by museum educational departments.  Partnering with their local medical schools, art museums across the country (and even Australia, Canada and the UK) have developed curricula to further the observational skills of medical students by looking at art.

The number of museums with these type of programs is fast growing with dedicated museum staff and medical school instructors collaborating on courses such as “Art of Observation”, which concentrates on close-looking at works of art in museum galleries, “Art of Form”, artist-perspective led learning and making of art, and “Art of Evaluation”, round-table discussions in which students describe their experiences.MOMA

The activity of looking is often, pardon the pun, over-looked when it comes to a medical student’s jam-packed education.  Yet the benefits of training a new generation of doctors to use their eyes in the means art demands is beneficial to all parties involved.  Through structured viewing exercises led by expert museum staff, medical students gain visual acumen, interpretative reasoning, and communication skills that can be applied to patient care.  Museums, in turn, can offer services that have the potential to save lives.

This type of programming began to surface in the past decade as exercises to increase visual literacy amongst medical students.  Physical examination is such a large part of clinical diagnosis so medical students must learn to observe quickly, accurately and without bias.  This especially becomes essential as technology and rush increasingly limit human-to-human interactions.

Dartmouth has a vibrant exchange taught between its Geisel School of Medicine and Hood Museum of Art.  During “The Art of Clinical Observation” workshops, the class is divided up and museum staff host four students at a time.  A cluster begins by studying one work of art for ten minutes, then each student describes it in detail to the rest of group only in terms of what is seen – without analysis or interpretation.  The process repeats through the day with different works of art and ends with a discussion on how slow, careful description can be applied to diagnosing images of patients.

HarvardIn 2008, Harvard published a groundbreaking study which showed that students who completed their innovative course “Training the Eye: Improving the Art of Physical Diagnosis” did in fact observe more than students who had not taken the course.  The implications of greater observational skills all point to positive: better diagnoses leads to better patient care, extends to more efficient medical spending, and essentially makes for better doctors.

Additionally, being part of these team-building, interdisciplinary conversations helps medical students embrace new types of thinking, ways of conversing and appreciation for different cultures.  In other words, in learning to appreciate all types of art, doctors can appreciate all types of people.

Foremost in the advancement of this knowledge is an invitational forum: The Art of Examination: Art Museums with Medical School Partnerships which will take place in June 2016 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  The forum is being spearheaded by Bonnie Pitman, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Texas at Dallas and Wendy Woon, The Edward John Noble Foundation Deputy Director for Education at MoMA.  The event will for the first time bring together art museum and medical professionals from all over the world to share information about their programs in a collaborative stage against the stunning backdrops of MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collections’ galleries.

Based on the desire for a deeper understanding of how programs can be improved to enhance clinical practice, results of the Forum will be broadcast on the University of Texas at Dallas Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History website at https://www.utdallas.edu/arthistory.ut

Research continues to demonstrate the value of these programs, which have expanded to include a variety of topics such as empathy – how to respect and have difficult conversations with patients.  Evaluative methods are still being developed that will further outline the need for medical students to slow down and hone their looking skills.  The next time you visit an art museum, think of all the ways art plays a part in helping others, and be aware of how looking plays a big part of your health.

More fun reading:

http://news.yale.edu/2009/04/10/class-helping-future-doctors-learn-art-observation

https://news.wgbh.org/post/learning-medicine-looking-art

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2517949/

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/03/honing-the-art-of-observation-and-observing-art.html

Rather than make any cuts to Katrina’s article, I chose to defer all book and event news until the next blog. What is it

Until next week,IMG_1398

Keep living your life!

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