Thursday, July 23, 2015

To Create Better Doctors, Cultivate Their Creative Side - Pacific Standard

Want to train a better generation of physicians? See to it that they develop the sensibility of artists.

That's the argument Dr. Caroline Wellbery and Dr. Rebecca McAteer of the Georgetown University School of Medicine make in an essay just published in the journal Academic Medicine. Utilizing insights from research (as well as their own experience), they propose a curriculum for an eight-week "arts observation seminar" that could provide invaluable new perspectives to aspiring doctors.

They argue that such a program, which would encompass poetry, photography, and descriptive writing, could aid young physicians in three crucial ways: Encouraging them to "see with an open mind," rather than reflexively linking a set of symptoms with a textbook diagnosis; honing their ability to describe their observations with nuance and precision; and teaching them how to effectively articulate their ideas to patients and colleagues.

"The literary and visual arts," they write, "have long-standing and venerable roles in fortifying the lessons of clinical empathy, communication skills, critical thinking, and attention"—crucial qualities that can easily get overlooked in an era of assembly line office visits, where a doctor's attention is often more focused on lab-test data than actual communion with the patient.

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