A curricular addition using art to enhance reflection on professional values

Mil Med. 2015 Apr;180(4 Suppl):88-91. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00571.


Background: Art and humanities can enhance undergraduate medical education curricular objectives. Most commonly, art is used to help students learn observational skills, such as medical interviewing and physical diagnosis. Educators concurrently struggle to find ways to meaningfully teach professional values within crowded curricula.

Aim: This curriculum aimed to combine art and reflection to actively convey tenets of medical professionalism.

Setting: Internal medicine clerkship at a single institution.

Participants: Third-year students.

Program description: Students reviewed an online module describing attributes of medical professionalism before completing a 4-step written exercise stimulated by viewing a work of art and based on a critical incident from their own experiences. A faculty member reviewed the essays and facilitated small group discussion to normalize the students' emotional responses and generalize their observations to others.

Program evaluation: The curriculum was acceptable to students and enthusiastically received by faculty. Efforts to assess the effects and durability of the exercise on student behavior are ongoing.

Discussion: Artwork can enhance student reflection on professional values. This model efficiently and creatively meets curricular professionalism objectives.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Art*
  • California
  • Clinical Clerkship / methods
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Male
  • Professionalism*
  • Social Values*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Teaching / methods