Connecting paintings to patient care


At Dartmouth Medical School, a pilot program developed by Dr. Joseph O’Donnell has medical students studying paintings to help sharpen their observational and diagnostic skills.  The medical school collaborates with Hood Museum of Art to assist students to examine paintings, discuss what they (students) have seen, and challenge they to “support their points with visual evidence.”

wassily-kandinsky-solid-green                                      (Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944, ‘solid green’)

One might ask how examining art is helpful in diagnosing illness and disease in patients.  According to the article, “if a couple of distinctive details in a painting are overlooked, you might arrive at an inaccurate interpretation – very similar to patient diagnosing.”  To read the article, click here.

I’d like to comment on a few points.  First of all, I love that the healthcare industry sees the value in utilizing and incorporating the arts in medical and listeningnursing education.  By applying the same critical observation skills one uses in examining paintings (or any object) to assessing patients, the healthcare practitioner will pick up more of the subtleties regarding a patient’s condition.

However, making an accurate diagnosis is  arrived at carefully listening to a patient’s story of the events leading up her/him seeking medical help, and asking the right questions.

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