about

The website is a collection of creative arts resources to help doctors learn, teach and maintain the art of medicine.

The resources are drawn from specific medical references in art, and from the work of doctors and patients as artists.

There is a growing wealth of creative arts resources on the internet, in books, and in buildings around the world. The website signposts clinicians to these stimulating resources.

Art can be many things- a source of delight, a solace, an inspiration, or a stimulus for change. Art can educate doctors, relieve their stress or help them to express and understand the emotion associated with caring. Its role in medical education is to broaden perspective and deepen the understanding of how illnesses impact an individual’s life. Art encourages doctors to stop and think about the person they are caring for.

Doctors are naturally curious. Art can develop this curiosity by helping doctors make sense of the world, develop problem-solving skills and break down cultural barriers and biases. The practise of medicine can be described as an art. Art can act as a reminder to doctors that patients are human. Understanding an individual who is suffering from a disease is as important as understanding the disease the person is suffering from.

C P Snow’s Rede lecture in 1959 called for increased dialogue between the scientific and artistic communities. This was 60 years ago; much positive change has happened since then. Training in medical schools, previously focused on scientific progress and a curative model of care is now embracing the medical humanities as a valuable resource for teaching medicine. There is now a widely held belief that encouraging doctors to embrace both science and art helps create compassionate, wise and resilient doctors.

The arts also have an important role to play in our patients’ lives. The UK Government’s 2017 Report ‘Creative Health; The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’ recognises how arts-based approaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long term conditions and experience a better quality of life. Clinicians are well placed to help patients to access arts-based approaches.

I grew up in Birmingham, England; home to many world-renowned scientists, to a culturally diverse population, inspiring buildings and art. I lived on The Cadbury Estate built by George Cadbury whose Quaker beliefs of social responsibility and reform led him to build a model village for his employees. Like many students in the 1980s, I was encouraged to choose between studying science or the humanities. I studied medicine at Sheffield University where the Medical School’s motto is ‘Ars Longa Vita Brevis’ (Art is long, life is short). I became a GP. I am interested in the story of people’s lives and the potential of the GP to help patients problem solve and make sense of their lives. After a 23-year career as a GP, I now work as part of a team that trains GPs in York, England. I continue to use my passion for creative arts to help doctors learn and maintain the art of medicine. The website shares the creative arts resources I have collected to teach local GPs and GP Trainees and maintain my own medical career. The aim is for it to grow and inspire other health professionals in their work.

My intent is to ensure that all the images and resources on this website comply with current copyright law. I hope that all the resources have been appropriately attributed to their creators and current owners. If I have made any errors these can be corrected, or the work removed if required. The site is my hobby based on the desire to share what has inspired me throughout my medical career.

Who else is involved in The Art of Medicine:

Dr Roger Higson
I'm indebted to Roger, for being a trailblazer in the field of medical humanities. This website grew from the resources we collated over the many happy years of co-facilitating creative arts seminars for GP Trainers in Yorkshire and the Humber. Roger is the inspiration behind this collection of resources, his ongoing encouragement and wisdom provide fuel for the project.

Beth Jakeman
Beth is a humanities graduate and lover of the arts, with a passion for the medium of film and literature. She has a particular interest in how women and gender differences are portrayed in art. Together, we sift through the colourful array of international arts resources and curate collections that we hope will stimulate discussion and broaden horizons.

You, the reader and the participant
I'm also grateful for all the stimulating thoughts, ideas and feedback from people attending the seminars and using the resources. They show that the arts are a powerful tool for teaching and maintaining the art of medicine.

Nicola Gill