Posted in biology, chemistry, communication and networking, medical imaging

How Studying Art Improves Doctor Training

Quinnipiac University's Arnold Bernhard Librar...
Quinnipiac University’s Arnold Bernhard Library and clock tower, with Sleeping Giant in background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Forbes:

Previous experience with critical thinking in the sciences (left brain) has been a common theme for perceived success in medicine. Sprinkled with these important traits and skills, it turns out that the value of a humanities background, emphasizing more “right brain” characteristics (including imagery, poetry and drawing) may actually hold greater value in the eyes of some experts.

Being accepted into medical school used to mean selecting time-honored disciplines such as biology or chemistry, taking a more traditional route as a “pre-med” to gain entrance. The goal was to be the most prepared for the onslaught of biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and science-related material that has traditionally permeated the first several years of medical school, prior to the transition to formal clerkships.

In the past two decades, however, with the advent of the problem based learning promoted through Harvard Medical School, along with an earlier exposure to seeing patients in various electives, the traditional pre-med student that admission committees use to seek out has begun to change.

As medical schools have become more innovative, and as their approach to training medical students has evolved–as evidenced by new and progressive schools such as the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University—having a strictly science-related background may not be the only way to increase the probability of gaining entrance.

Dr. Salvatore Mangione, Associate Professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, and a master of artistic expression and physical diagnosis feels that such alternative artistic and visual skills may enhance the ability of a student to excel in medical school and become a successful physician in practice. Dr. Mangione also serves as Director of the Physical Diagnosis Course as well as the History of Medicine Course at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

In his view, medical students with a more diverse background, which could include artistic and visual skills may potentially hold an edge in today’s selection process.

It seems that students with more “right brain” qualities–related to imagery, visual and drawing skills–have begun to emerge as more successful in today’s digital, image-based world of medicine.

“More and more, the data are quite convincing that people that think in pictures may actually have greater innovation and greater creativity than people who think in words.” says Dr. Mangione.

Read the whole article.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.