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Artful Medicine: Art’s Power to Enrich Patient Care

Brown University via edX

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Overview

What impact can art and the humanities have on patient care? Can art enhance medical caregivers’ powers of observation and humanize their interactions with patients? Through presence alone, can caregivers heal what they cannot cure?

In Artful Medicine: Art’s Power to Enrich Patient Care, we will explore the meaning of medical professionalism, techniques for a humanistic approach to caregiving, and the positive impact of humanism on clinical outcomes.

By looking closely at works of art that portray empathy in human interaction, caregivers can discover their common humanity with patients. Caregivers can also hone observation skills that help paint a portrait of a patient as a person and not a collection of symptoms, lab tests, and scans. Through presence at the patient’s side, unmediated by technology, a caregiver can make the patient feel cared for in addition to being treated.

One needn’t be a caregiver to benefit from this course—though all of us have probably been cared for at some point and can therefore easily relate to the importance of a humanistic approach to caregiving. Anyone interested in how art can be used to enhance observational and empathic skills will find this application to medical humanism fascinating.

We will:

  • Explore elements of professionalism and humanism, why they are critical to patient care, and how they are threatened by technology that increasingly distances caregivers from patients;
  • Analyze art for form, narrative, and technique;
  • Practice techniques used by art educators to enhance observation and improve diagnostic skills;
  • Examine works of art for the professional behaviors they exemplify;
  • Apply techniques to patient care that will help humanize interactions, so caregivers can refocus their attention on patients and families and enhance their understanding of behaviors critical to healing; and
  • Identify with both the caregiver’s and the patient’s points of view.

This MOOC is inspired by residential seminar taught by Dr. Schiffman at Brown University's Warren Alpert School of Medicine under the name The Doc's HeArt: Reflecting on Professional Values Through Art, and is especially relevant for healthcare professionals who are interested in differentiating themselves in their given or prospective field.

Taught by

Fred J. Schiffman M.D.

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