Education Research: An arts-based curriculum for neurology residents


To determine the feasibility and educational value of an arts-based curriculum for neurology residents, with the following specific learning objectives: to enhance communication and observational skills, increase awareness of point of view, and deepen appreciation of the narrative content of illness.


Narrative medicine and visual thinking exercises, adopted from the study of literature and art history, were offered as monthly sessions in the neurology residents’ conference schedule. Participants completed an institutional review board–approved anonymous evaluation using a 5-point Likert scale to rate course effectiveness and perform a retrospective pre- and post-self-assessment of communication and visual observation skills. They also provided free text feedback on the course.


All participants rated the course highly and found the exercises effective in enhancing awareness of language and observational skills. Eighty percent of participants rated their listening and observation skills as above average after participation, which improved from 63% and 45%, respectively, before the sessions. Comments on the course cited the importance of reflection, focused attention, awareness of multiple perspectives, and appreciation of colleagues.


Arts-based graduate medical education is feasible and effective in teaching residents to listen and observe more closely. Narrative medicine and visual thinking exercises highlight these skills and promote professional growth, providing an opportunity to reflect and find meaning in clinical work.

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