Arts PRN: Why you need art

In Arts PRN by Tetyana Maniuk1 Comment

Deliberate practice increases pattern recognition skills.

Studies show that providing fine art education increases the number and sophistication of observations medical students make in both art and clinical reports.1–4 The participants were able to use more accurate terminology and noted more details surrounding a clinical case or fine arts piece compared to controls.

We do not need to stretch the imagination to realize how beneficial this could be to the healthcare provider. Perhaps looking at a Monet just one more time may finally help us differentiate the origin of that pesky maculopapular rash?

Creating art increases the awareness of multiple perspectives, emotions, and empathy.

Art, at its core, is universal. One does not need to personally experience sleep paralysis or nightmares to feel the emotions of fear and the supernatural that Fuseli portrays through “The Nightmare” (1791).

Image of Fuseli's "The Nightmare"

“The Nightmare” – Fuseli

Art is a venue to share experiences when words may fail. Thus, learning art enhances awareness of the perspectives of others. One cannot always listen to or read about a story in a language other than their own, however, learning about these stories through art is always available.

Engaging with art reduces stress and assists with self-reflection.

Playing music in the OR has been shown to decrease stress and positively impact the performance of surgeons (but only if that music was self-selected!). Art aids in raising awareness and developing coping strategies surrounding illness and bereavement in healthcare providers; this helps physicians develop empathy and make a positive connection with patients.5 As well, practicing art in any form has been shown to improve quality of life and decrease self-reported stress and depression among many populations.6

Creating and learning about art encourages a holistic and humanistic medical practice.

It is evident that art may play a significant role in improving the well-being of healthcare providers at all levels – from medical students to experienced staff. Mindful engagement with art can improve our experiences with the patients we care for; it enhances our ability to notice subtleties in their stories, and allow us to become more aware of their perspectives. Perhaps equally important, the practice of art allows us to understand and cope healthily with the stressors of our own practices, and in turn, become better healthcare providers.

Ready to share your art? Submit to the first cycle!

The theme of the first cycle will be Memories. Submit by August 27th, 2017 for your art to be considered!

e-mail your art, questions, and comments to [email protected]

Click to Submit!


Bardes C, Gillers D, Herman A. Learning to look: developing clinical observational skills at an art museum. Med Educ. 2001;35(12):1157-1161. [PubMed]
Elder N, Tobias B, Lucero-Criswell A, Goldenhar L. The art of observation: impact of a family medicine and art museum partnership on student education. Fam Med. 2006;38(6):393-398. [PubMed]
Naghshineh S, Hafler JP, Miller AR, et al. Formal Art Observation Training Improves Medical Students’ Visual Diagnostic Skills. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2008;23(7):991-997. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0667-0
Shapiro J, Rucker L, Beck J. Training the clinical eye and mind: using the arts to develop medical students’ observational and pattern recognition skills. Medical Education. 2006;40(3):263-268. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2006.02389.x
Staricoff RL. Arts in Health: A Review of the  Medical Literature . Arts Council England; 2007:91.
Stuckey HL, Nobel J. The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(2):254-263. doi: 10.2105/ajph.2008.156497

Tetyana Maniuk

Tetyana is a PGY1 EM resident at uOttawa with a passion for the arts. She is the Editor of CanadiEM's Arts PRN Section.

Chitbhanu Singh

Chitbhanu Singh is a third year medical student at the University of Saskatchewan. His medical interests include ultrasound, simulation, and MedEd. His other interests include photography, guitar, and long walks on the treadmill.

Latest posts by Chitbhanu Singh (see all)