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Rohenhauser, P, Strickland MA, Gambala, CT. Arts-Related Activities Across U.S. Medical Schools: A Follow-up Study. Teach Learn Med 2004. 16:233-239. Reviewed by Sherilyn Smith, University of Washington


Rohenhauser, P, Strickland MA, Gambala, CT. Arts-Related Activities Across U.S. Medical Schools: A Follow-up Study. Teach Learn Med 2004. 16:233-239.

Reviewed by Sherilyn Smith, University of Washington

This article is a follow up of a survey done in 2001 that reported on the frequency of art related teaching that occurs in medical schools across the country. Surveys were mailed to all US medical schools with a 65% response rate. Approximately ½ of the respondents indicated that there was some curricular component that linked arts and medicine. Twenty-six schools reported required courses and 43 schools reported elective courses. The curricula for these courses were varied as were the type of art form utilized (writing, literature, art, music etc). A majority of the respondents (52/83) indicated that there were extracurricular student activities, and these were often used to promote student well being (vs. teach specific skills). The curricula from selected schools were highlighted to give a flavor of what might be accomplished in these courses (and we have seen some excellent examples from COMSEP members!!!). The article highlights that very few courses have reported evaluation or assessment of specific outcomes.

This article clearly demonstrates that many schools believe that inclusion of the arts and humanity in medical student training is important and worth the investment. Further work needs to be done to articulate what we are trying to achieve with our educational interventions and move to creatively and accurately measure these outcomes.

(I immediately thought of Rich Sarkin when I read the title of this article. While I never experienced his use of art to teach pediatrics, I heard it was quite impressive. I wish we could hear more about his work. Sherilyn points out that several COMSEP examples were used. (Congratulations!) Perhaps its time for us to do something collaborative - and to consider what impact this actually has. Do you think that the time spent on teaching these non-science components is appropriate? Will a student who is exposed to a different approach (as may come from these diverse topics) be a measurably better physician? Karen Marcdante)

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