Is drawing a valuable skill in surgical practice? 100 surgeons weigh in

J Vis Commun Med. 2019 Jan;42(1):4-14. doi: 10.1080/17453054.2018.1558996. Epub 2019 Feb 18.


The author noted surgeons frequently drawing in routine practice. Literature review revealed no prior study of this activity. This research was conducted to examine the prevalence, purpose, and perceived value of this practice. Surgeons' experiences and opinions regarding drawing in surgical practice were canvassed via an online survey. One-hundred surgeons participated. 92% valued drawing routinely in practice. Utility was reported across domains of consent, communication, patient care, medico-legal, education, and planning operations. Free-text feedback is discussed, and learning points from this data were summarised. This paper establishes the collective professional opinion of 100 surgeons regarding the value of drawing, which plays a thriving role in current surgical practice. The utility of this skill transcends merely documenting visual information, allowing surgeons to quickly visualise simplified, dynamic representations of reality. This facilitates communication between professionals, and with their patients. The efficiency and availability of this medium allows drawing to maintain a distinct role in medical communication amongst other imaging modalities available. This paper is the first to document the prevalence of drawing amongst surgeons, substantiates an informed professional opinion supporting this practice, and demonstrates widespread enthusiasm for further training in these skills.

Keywords: Drawing; art; consent; draw; science communication; sketching; teaching; training; visual communication.

MeSH terms

  • Art*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Surgeons*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching