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Keywords:

  • medical education;
  • gross anatomy education;
  • art;
  • fine arts;
  • observational skills;
  • anatomy;
  • student selected component;
  • student enrichment programs

For many years art, anatomy and medicine have shared a close relationship, as demonstrated by Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings and Andreas Vesalius' groundbreaking illustrated anatomical textbook from the 16th century. However, in the modern day, can art truly play an important role in medical education? Studies have suggested that art can be utilized to teach observational skills in medical students, a skill that is integral to patient examination but seldom taught directly within medical curricula. This article is a subjective survey that evaluates a student selected component (SSC) that explored the uses of art in medicine and investigates student perception on the relationship between the two. It also investigates whether these medical students believe that art can play a role in medical education, and more specifically whether analyzing art can play a role in developing observational skills in clinicians. An “Art in Medicine” 8-week course was delivered to first year medical students at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The use of art to improve observational skills was a core theme throughout. Feedback from the students suggests that they believe a strong association between art and medicine exists. It also showed a strong perception that art could play a role in medical education, and more specifically through analyzing art to positively develop clinical observational skills. The results of this subjective study, together with those from research from elsewhere, suggest that an art-based approach to teaching observational skills may be worth serious consideration for inclusion in medical and other healthcare curricula. Anat Sci Educ 7: 370–378. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.