The Arts in Medical Education: A Practical Guide

Powley, ElaineHigson, Roger

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Handbook

Annotated by:
Clark, Stephanie Brown
  • Date of entry: Feb-12-2007
  • Last revised: Feb-05-2007


As the two physician-authors suggest, this book is kind of a primer for medical educators who plan to integrate medial humanities materials and approaches into curricula for healthcare providers and trainees. It is a "how-to" manual for teaching medical humanities content to clinicians.

The book's Introduction asks "why use the arts In medical education?" and identifies their utility in understanding the patient's unique and personal experience of illness, and the effects of  patients' social locations and psychological responses to their disease and to the healthcare professionals who care for them. And further, the arts offer a way for healthcare professionals to explore and reflect emotionally on their personal interactions with patients, to think creatively and practice empathetically.

The next chapter provides a model of "how to teach the arts" using a non-didactic, interactive approach as a series of questions around the work of art. Illustrative examples are included at each step. In the subsequent chapters, each focuses on an individual art forms-- literature, visual art, sculpture, photographs, music and drama-- with specific examples, exercises and activities for learners that have been piloted by the authors. For the music chapter, a CD with examples is included.


Changes in medical education in the United Kingdom in the 1970s directed towards a patient-centred approach advocated the need for arts in training of primary care physicians. This text provides a great variety of examples of various arts, exercises and activities, and many candid suggestions and observations by the two authors about their use of these materials.It is most useful to educators who would like to introduce the arts into their medical curriculum, and are uncertain how to do so.


Written with George Taylor and David Powley


Radcliffe Publishing

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