Visual Art in Medical Education

The application of art as a tool for learning and its historical relationship with medicine can be a valid support for the development of skills such as observation, active listening, problem-solving, and empathy, useful for improving the profession and the relationship with the patient. According to new research findings, gazing at art can help future doctors and nurses sharpen their skills to visualize. Observation is key to diagnosis, and art can teach students to slow down and look. There has been an increasing effort to incorporate fine art education into medical training, primarily to enhance visual perception skills and empathy.

Art can be a versatile tool in the classroom. It has visual thinking strategies, emotions, clinical observations, and communicative language which helps medical students to work with more patience and deepen their connections with the patients. Researchers also observed that students developed skills in emotional recognition, cultivation of empathy, identification of story and narrative, and awareness of multiple perspectives. Many medical schools have incorporated experiences with representational or figurative art into the curriculum to improve learners' powers and ways of seeing visual diagnostic skills, and pattern recognition skills or to enhance communication skills and foster teamwork.

Learning art and craft activities, and engaging in drawing, painting, or sculpting classes develop the right hemisphere of the brain. And It seems that students with more “right-brain” qualities related to imagery, visual, and drawing skills have begun to emerge as more successful in today’s digital, image-based world of medicine. Also, art helps make medical students become more thoughtful and listen carefully to a patient's narrative of his/her symptoms, and this allows doctors to make a more informed diagnosis. Open communication between the doctor and patient helps the patient to understand his illness and comply with treatment. Students in medical education learn how to diagnose diseases and select optimal methods to treat them, however, such knowledge alone is not sufficient to be a good doctor. One also needs good bedside manners. Nowadays medical schools are increasingly turning to the visual arts to help them improve physician performance.

Hence it has been proven through findings & research that visual arts can help medical schools turn out more accomplished physicians. Many medical schools now have art programs through which they teach students observational skills and better bedside manners. A course in the arts can help medical students grapple with uncertainties which are an essential part of medicine. So studying art can help medical students think broadly and entertain various possibilities before settling on a final interpretation and become more efficient doctors in the future.

Do you also think that studying visual art can help medical students become better doctors? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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