Learning to look: developing clinical observational skills at an art museum

Authors


Charles L Bardes, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10021, USA. E-mail: clbardes@med.cornell.edu

Abstract

Context

Clinical diagnosis involves the observation, description, and interpretation of visual information. These skills are also the special province of the visual arts. We describe an educational collaboration between a medical school and an art museum, designed for the purpose of developing student skills in observation, description, and interpretation.

Objectives

In the programme, medical students first examine painted portraits, under the tutelage of art educators and medical school faculty. Then, the students examine photographs of patients’ faces and apply the same skills.

Conclusion

This programme, well-received by students and faculty, appeared to help the students not only in improving their empirical skills in observation, but also in developing increased awareness of emotional and character expression in the human face.

Ancillary