Maggie Hammond: Developing medical insight using visual arts


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Maggie Hammond: Developing medical insight using visual arts. Slides from the University of Liverpool Learning and Teaching Conference 2009.

Visual arts have been used effectively to help medical students develop observational, interpretive and descriptive skills. This project utilized the expertise of trained art educators and the galleries of Tate Liverpool to devise and pilot a single-day programme for medical students to explore ways of using art to consciously teach an awareness of intuition and the value of subjectivity: to develop ‘seeing’ as not only the observation of physical signs and symptoms, but also an awareness of person and context, emotional elements and narrative; to enhance students’ personal awareness of bias in interpretation and response, to art and to patients; to engage students in the use of emotional language, and to focus on visual thinking. Twenty medical students participated in one of two days. Feedback was received from 75% via email; six students took part in a focus group discussion. Data were analysed using grounded theory. The results of the analysis and plans for future developments will be discussed.

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Maggie Hammond: Developing medical insight using visual arts

  1. 1. How can visual arts help doctors develop insight? Tate Liverpool: short course for medical students: Developing Medical Insight Using the Visual Arts Thursday, 19 th February, 10am to 4:30pm: a day of stimulation, challenge and inspiration --email Maggie Hammond for information / to book a place [email_address]
  2. 2. Kathy Edmonds, Senior Lecturer, Youth and Community Work Glyndŵr University
  3. 3. <ul><li>Developing skills: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Descriptive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emotional recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identification of story and narrative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Judgement </li></ul><ul><li>Decision-making </li></ul><ul><li>Intuition </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty </li></ul><ul><li>Bias </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>10 students x 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Randomly selected from 44 applications </li></ul><ul><li>10am – 4:30 pm: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Coffee and welcome </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introductions and connections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Words and visuals—preconceptions and meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work in focus and connections– three words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ways of looking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Themes—health, death, emotion, conflict </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluation and tea </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Notes from the day </li></ul><ul><li>Written reflections by email (75% return) </li></ul><ul><li>Focus group: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3 students randomly selected from each day </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitated by colleague </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recorded and transcribed by notetaker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>£20 Amazon voucher </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Hyena Stomp  1962, Frank Stella Image removed due to copyright, to view please visit
  9. 9. <ul><li>‘ My favourite part of the day was finding the art that we had attempted to draw. </li></ul><ul><li>My piece was quite obscure and at first I was sceptical about it but talking to the assistant completely changed my opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>I was surprised at how much I warmed to the art just from hearing an explanation but this inspired me to look deeper at other pieces of work.’ </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Confidence building </li></ul><ul><li>Listening skills </li></ul><ul><li>Challenging, new ways of thinking </li></ul><ul><li>How we make judgements </li></ul><ul><li>Learning new things: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Art appreciation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills in using the gallery </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>‘ I now feel happy visiting an art gallery and won’t be having an internal laugh at those people who are staring at pieces of art which I personally give no value – I will instead wonder what it is that those people are thinking and why it is that they can appreciate what I cannot.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I hope I have gained better listening skills, practice at “thinking outside the box” and a better appreciation of art, something which I intend to continue.’ </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>the sceptic </li></ul><ul><li>‘ yes, vaguely...’ </li></ul><ul><li>more rounded person = better doctor </li></ul><ul><li>superficial similarities or differences between people/conditions  treat each as individual </li></ul><ul><li>Language </li></ul><ul><li>maintain your self-awareness </li></ul><ul><li>clinical judgement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>make your own decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be confident in describing what you see. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>‘ I think the day at the Tate used art to explore different perspectives and themes in life and I was surprised to see how this linked closely with medicine and our role as health professionals.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The Tate experience of viewing art as a way to understand some of the complex concepts and emotions involved in personal reactions and the medical profession was inspiring.’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>‘ Aside from the obvious &quot;don't judge a book by it's cover&quot;, I think reflection was of key importance.  Spending time thinking about the art in different terms, i.e. visceral response, the context, the artist, etc., brought out a lot of information that wasn't visible at first glance.  This obviously transfers nicely to medical practice.  </li></ul><ul><li>The importance of discussion with a colleague to enable a differing perspective upon a work of art/ patient was also highlighted.’ </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>medical school doesn’t allow time to relax </li></ul><ul><li>little opportunity to try something novel </li></ul><ul><li>always talking about and thinking about medicine </li></ul><ul><li>refreshing, stimulated the imagination </li></ul><ul><li>guilt if you don’t work only on medicine </li></ul><ul><li>social time and connections, sharing </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>‘ When I have ‘free time’ I often feel that I still have to rush through things and never properly relax. I was so glad of the opportunity to do something new and with permission as well!’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It just helped us to really open our minds to something outside of the medical conforms yet drawing on our clinical experiences and challenged some of our preconceived ideas about health and communication.’’ </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>‘ Personal reflection and sharing concepts about impressions, assumptions, emotions, the way you make judgements and the way you see what is in front of you as a whole picture are not normally accessible on a day to day basis.’ </li></ul>
  18. 18. Bathers at Moritzburg  1909/26, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Image removed due to copyright, to view please visit