Cogent Arts & Humanities (2017-01-01)

Illustrating the art of (teaching) medicine

  • Carol Ann Courneya

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 1


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This essay chronicles the multi-year evolution of an art-making project involving first-year medical and dental students. It started as a call for artistic interpretations, through photography, of the cardiac science that the students were learning in their curriculum. On the basis of their initial enthusiasm for the project, and in response to subsequent student’s requests, it broadened to include a wide variety of media (photographs, paintings, sketches, sculptures, installations, and videos), but always related to the original cardiac theme. Beyond just “pretty pictures” many of these images were student interpretations of foundational anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Many required a sophisticated understanding of the structure or function in order to translate the science into art. Some students used clever metaphors and fanciful thinking to create their art. Dental students showed a preference for creating art that required manual dexterity and hand–eye coordination. Completing the circle, this multi-year repository of student-generated cardiac art has been used as vital learning objects in on-going medical school lectures, as an alternative representation of anatomy and physiology. The significance of using art-making as a learning tool in medical/dental training is discussed in this essay.