Enhancing Observation

Enhancing Observation Skills

Enhancing Observation Skills is a program designed for medical students and other professionals that uses original works of art in a museum setting to help strengthen observation and communication skills. Working closely with a museum educator, representational artworks are discussed and offer the opportunity for focused conversations. No art or art history background is needed.

Participants work in small groups with a museum educator to facilitate these looking experiences. First, they study a painting on their own through concentrated looking. Next, they objectively describe the artwork in as much detail as possible. Finally, using only this visual information, they develop an interpretation or draw conclusions about the narrative presented based only on what they see.

Moving outside of the workplace environment allows for fresh thinking that animates the conversations, as visiting the Center sets the stage for a new kind of learning. For additional questions or to schedule a session, contact Education (ycba.education@yale.edu | +1 203 432 2858).

Watch Art of Medicine, featuring testimonials from past student participants, as well as insights from program leaders Linda Friedlaender and Dr. Irwin Braverman. 

Students participating in an Enhancing Observation program, photo by Jaime Ursic

The 2001 study published in The Journal of American Medical Association demonstrated that visual examination and objective description of a representational narrative painting conferred skills that were transferable to the examination of photographs of patients with medical disorders. The mean scores of the intervention group improved 9% when the pretest scores were compared with posttest scores, whereas the control group remained unchanged.

Research Study Citation: Jacqueline C. Dolev MD, Linda Krohner Friedlaender MS, Irwin M Braverman MD, Use of Fine Art to Enhance Diagnostic Skills. JAMA 286: 1020-1, 2001.