the Art of the Exam

The course, Training the Eye: Improving the Art of Physical Diagnosis is a nine week pre-clinical course that meets weekly for two-and-a-half-hour sessions, and features observation exercises at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art (MFA) and lectures linking visual arts concepts with physical diagnosis

The researchers found that the students who took the course had a 38 percent increase in overall accurate visual observations of patients and art work compared to otherwise similarly-trained control students in the study. The findings appear in the July, 2008 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“Our findings suggest that through the structured study of works of art and medical imagery, visual inspection skills, including those directly relevant to clinical medicine, can be improved,” said Katz. He added, “At a time when physical examination skills are waning, I am encouraged that an interdisciplinary course designed to help develop better visual literacy can expand medical students’ diagnostic capabilities.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

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