Med School Checklist: MFAH Edition September 26, 2012

Pens and pencils? Check.
Empty notebooks? Check.
Mountains of flashcards? Check.
Textbooks, textbooks, textbooks? Check.
IV of caffeine? Check.
MFAH? Check!

Confused by the last item on that list? Let me explain.

Could you describe what a spiral does without using anything but words? No cheating! You can’t use any hand gestures. Difficult, isn’t it? Now imagine that you are a doctor trying to diagnose a sick patient, using only words. Your patients depend on your ability to clearly, concisely, and accurately note even the most subtle of changes in their condition and appearance. Can you do it?

Enter the Art of Observation. In a mission to enhance the skills of observation and articulation in their students, several medical schools have partnered with the MFAH to offer elective courses in the subject of observation. The MFAH works with students at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas Medical School, and UT School of Dentistry; and the nursing program at Lone Star College-Montgomery.

The Art of Observation program gives medical students the chance to escape the lecture hall and visit the MFAH. In the galleries, students practice observation, communication, empathy, and introspection using various works of art from the museum’s collections as case studies. The classes help to encourage future doctors and nurses to be fully present and keenly observant when interacting with patients.

Ideally, classes in observation will prepare the students to practice quality medicine even in environments where state-of-the-art tests are not as available as they are in Houston. Because the students learn to be more adept at slowing down and observing closely, they are more likely to be able to communicate effectively with their patients and with the medical staff.

Medical student or not, you, too, should consider practicing the art of observation!