Med Students Who Make Time for Art Have More Empathy

Contributed by Hank Hancock
March 20, 2018

Of course we know the meaningful benefits of including artworks in the built environment, especially in healthcare facilities. Now we are seeing more and more evidence that experiencing art may improve a physician’s practice. New data is supporting the notion that the arts and humanities should be part of physician training. Medical students who experience art

tend to have significantly better empathy, emotional intelligence, and wisdom—and they are less likely to develop symptoms of burnout. The findings could affect not only medical school curricula, but also admissions and recruitment, and professional development among practicing doctors.

A couple of years ago, Skyline Art Services learned from medical educator Alexa Miller how she teaches “visual thinking strategies” to physicians and other healthcare professionals. By looking at a work of art and interacting with it thoughtfully, she helps these physicians develop tools to challenge their habits of thought. “Quality, creative attention” from a physician improves interactions with patients and reduces misdiagnosis.