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Arts Observation Curriculum May Be Beneficial for Medical Students

Learning to observe objectively and communicate observations important in clinical practice

TUESDAY, July 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Use of an arts observation curriculum can help students learn to observe objectively and articulate their observations, which are important traits for clinical practice, according to an article published online July 3 in Academic Medicine.

Caroline Wellbery, M.D., Ph.D., and Rebecca A. McAteer, M.D., from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., describe the importance of observation and an arts observation pedagogy in medicine.

The authors note that many skills from an arts observation pedagogy can be applied to medicine, including close observation of the natural world, which is essential within medical culture. In addition, close reading of nature writing reinforces the observational skills that are needed in the clinical realm. Literary precision emphasizes the importance of detail within clinical practice. Observation while considering multiple perspectives helps students learn to appreciate the role of witness, and demonstrates that seeing is highly filtered by the observer, an important concept for clinical practice. Describing what learners see can help improve communication skills needed to express problems and possible improvements within their sphere of influence. The ability to articulate these thoughts is important for their work with physicians, colleagues, and patients.

“Teaching observational skills via an arts observation curriculum may offer a satisfying solution to an educational quandary that pits critical analysis against a focus on improvement,” the authors write.

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