Friday, July 17, 2015

Using art to build more observant doctors

Caroline Wellberry, MD, PhD, published a piece in the July 8th Academic Medicine, about using art and fiction to teach physicians to tune in better to patient cues and small symptoms.

She calls it intense and mindful observation.

As face-to-face time with patients decreases, these skills are needed more.

A 2012 study showed that interns and residents spend only 12% of their training in contact with patients.

Reduced time and focus in the physical exam can miss signs such as lesions on fingers suggesting rheumatoid arthritis or facial expressions linked to depression.

Close observation is an essential scientific habit.

A close reading of nature writing reveals not just a forest, but a hustling flurry of activity of small animals and insects.

Poetry has an exactness that can be used in medical care.

Interpreting short narratives can translate to interpretation of patient experiences, which are often presented in a disjointed way.

Close analysis of architecture and design can point out ways hospitals can be made more humane.

Even examining great works of art can reveal goiters and abnormalities in the subjects--aha!

And I would add this would make doctors more well-rounded, more affable, more cultured. Not so sciency all the time.

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