Art in Medical Education: A Review

J Grad Med Educ. 2020 Dec;12(6):686-695. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-20-00093.1. Epub 2020 Dec 2.


Background: The use of fine art in medical education has a long history. Numerous studies have investigated the potential benefits of incorporating art in medical education; however, there are gaps in knowledge regarding the efficacy, methodology, and clinical significance of these studies.

Objective: This scoping review of the literature aims to describe the available literature on the incorporation of art education in medical school and residency.

Methods: PubMed, Google Scholar, and MedEDPortal were queried from their inception dates through December 2019. English-language studies providing a detailed methodology and detailed analysis were included. A total of 37 studies were identified. Upon further screening of the studies' methodologies and results, 16 studies describing art education implemented with medical students and 12 studies describing art education implemented with residents were included for final review.

Results: Various methods of art education exist, including Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), rigorous curricula, and unstructured roundtable discussions with art curators or artistically minded clinicians. Studies range in duration, art media, and type of analysis.

Conclusions: There has been an increasing effort to incorporate fine art education into medical training, primarily to enhance visual perception skills and empathy. Although there is limited research on its efficacy, and wide variations in study methodologies exist, results consistently indicate that participants find the incorporation of art into curricula beneficial. Further research analyzing which methodologies are most likely to yield statistically and clinically significant improvements in visual perception and empathy may lead to increased utilization of this teaching method.

Publication types

  • Review