Art in Medical Education: Piloting an Alternate Method of Learning Empathy in the Physician-Patient Relationship

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Although physicians who engage empathetically with patients are more effective healers and enjoy greater professional satisfaction, the teaching of empathy remains underdeveloped in medical curricula and relies primarily on didactic learning methods. Experiential approaches that make use of the arts and humanities are needed. This qualitative study reports on the experiences of five medical students who engaged in individual, paired and group reflections involving the viewing of art work depicting dying patients surrounded by their loved ones. The students viewed empathetic communication as an important aspect of the physician-relationship but felt that learning empathy was not something that could be done effectively in the classroom. They reported emotional involvement with the patients and family members depicted in the art work. The results suggest than reflective training using the arts offers potential as an experiential approach in the learning of empathy.


Keywords: Art, Guided Reflection, Empathy, Medicine, Communication
Stream: Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Dr. Jane Gair

Senior Instructor, Faculty of Medicine
Division of Medical Sciences, University of British Columbia/University of Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

I am a Senior Instructor in the Island Medical Program at the University of Victoria, a distributed site of the University of British Columbia medical program. I am also the Faculty Development Coordinator for Vancouver Island. I have a PhD in Medical Genetics, with a focus on reproductive genetics from UBC. I am interested in medical education research, and including arts and the humanities in medical teaching.

Janice Santos Valdez

Independent Consultant and Practitioner, Founding Director, Imago Wellness & Education
Canada

Janice is an interdisciplinary artist, an applied theatre
practitioner, and educational consultant. Formerly the simulated
patient coordinator of the Island Medical Program, she is Founding
Director of Imago Wellness and Education; an emerging company with a
deep commitment to empower people through creative expression
practices. A graduate from the University of Victoria's Theatre
Department and New York University's Drama Therapy Program, Janice has
facilitated experiential workshops for youth, adults and their service
providers in New York City, Victoria and Vancouver. She has over 10
years experience as a performing artist and experiential learning
facilitator and curriculum designer.

Ref: I08P0297