In January 2000, Paul Lazarus and Felicity M Rosslyn introduced an innovative module for teaching Art History in the faculty of medicine. Entitled ‘The Arts in Medicine’, this art history course for medical students was taught at the Leicester Warwick Medical School.
The aim of the module was to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of people’s experiences and emotions when facing health and sickness through study of the arts. The module was taught collaboratively by the medical school and the department of English. Medical students were exposed to a series of arts-based seminars, and were given time to research a chosen study topic looking at an artist or art form that related to a health and sickness issue. They were assessed on their written submissions of this research assignment. Students were also encouraged to develop a reflective style of learning by keeping ‘learning journals’.
Doctors need to be able to empathise with their sick patients, and in turn be able to identify their own thoughts and attitudes when dealing with them. Experience of the arts can facilitate these skills by stimulating insight into common patterns of response, by highlighting individual differences and uniqueness, and by enriching the language and thinking of the practitioner.
The course was repeated for a second year due to its success. A high proportion of each group (at least 50% in each) wrote poetry, painted, or played music in a committed way. It was clear that students viewed the ‘Arts in Medicine’ module in a very positive light, and valued it as preparation for the careers in front of them and their dealings with patients.
Paul A Lazarus and Felicity M Rosslyn. “The Arts in Medicine: setting up and evaluating a new special study module at Leicester Warwick Medical School.” Medical education Vol.37 No.6 (2003-2006): 553-559. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2003.01537.x