Medical Students Study Art at the Amon Carter Museum to Sharpen Clinical Observation Skills

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Release date: 
April 19, 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas --- The University of North Texas Health Science Center and the Amon Carter Museum have partnered to present An Eye for Detail: The Art of Observation to first--year medical students. This innovative course is designed to help future physicians work on their diagnostic skills by examining paintings and photographs from the museum’s collection.

An Eye for Detail was originally created in 2001 by the health science center and the Amon Carter based on a collaboration between the Frick Collection and the Weill-Cornell Medical School in New York . At that time, the health science center’s course was offered to first- and second-year medical students on a voluntary basis. Beginning this year, first-year medical students are required to enroll in An Eye for Detail as part of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine curriculum at the health science center.

“By looking at art, students learn to observe, describe and interpret what they are seeing,” said Bruce Dubin, D.O., J.D., associate dean of medical education. “They then translate this into the clinical setting using non-verbal cues to determine a patients’ mental and physical well-being.”

During the course, students observe five portraits in the Carter’s galleries, ranging from photography to oil painting. They are instructed to use visual clues from the portraits to make conclusions about the person’s age, ethnicity, health, mood, personality, socioeconomic status and occupation.

The course is facilitated by Carter staff members, working with groups of seven to eight students, who share their findings in a large group discussion. The course takes approximately five hours and includes a pre-test and post-test, using medical photography, to determine if students’ observational skills improved as a result of the program

An Eye for Detail challenges students to utilize and strengthen their problem-solving skills, exercise their creative thinking skills, and process visual information,” said Amon Carter Museum Tour Program Manager Nora Christie. “We believe that honing these skills early in their medical education will make them better physicians.”

An Eye for Detail will be offered to students April 20, 21 and 22; May 3, 6, 10 and 27; and June 3 and 10.