Enhancing Observational Skills
In this program, medical trainees, nursing students, and other healthcare professionals learn to strengthen observation and communication skills through the study of original works of art in a museum setting. Working closely with a museum educator or docent, participants discuss artworks and engage in focused conversations. No background in art or art history is needed.
Working in small groups, participants first study a painting on their own using 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 a conclusion about the narrative presented based only on what they have observed.
Moving outside the workplace environment allows for fresh thinking that animates conversations, while the museum sets the stage for a new kind of learning. This gallery exercise is followed up with a classroom discussion applying these new skills to photographs of actual patients in a clinical setting.
The Art of Medicine features testimonials from past student participants, as well as insights from program leaders Linda Friedlaender, the Center's Senior Curator of Education, and Dr. Irwin Braverman.