Art-based observational training for medical students and surgical residents in two Dutch museums

P. E. J. de Ruiter, B. van de Brug, M. A. Reijntjes, L. Linsen, S. Lagarde, T. M. van Gulik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Art-based education is gaining interest in the medical field, particularly in specialties with a strong visual focus. Visual arts are increasingly used for the development of observational skills and social competencies. While content and objectives of art-based programs widely differ across medical faculties in the Netherlands, the diverse range of options underscore the interest in and the potential of this educational approach. In this report, we explore the value of art-based observational training for medical students and surgical residents in two prominent Dutch museums in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, respectively. Methods. Our program, conducted at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Depot Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam engaged medical students (n=24) and surgeons (in training) (n=66) in an interactive workshop focused on art observation led by an experienced art-educator and a clinical professional. Learning objectives were defined and a post-workshop questionnaire was devised to evaluate participants’ perceptions, with a specific focus on contribution of the program to professional development. Results. Both residents and surgeons acknowledged that the program had a positive impact on their professional skills. The program learned them to postpone their judgements and contributed to the awareness of their personal bias. Notably, medical students believed in the program’s potential contribution to their professional development. Surgeons were more critical in their evaluation, emphasizing the challenge of sustainable improvement of skills within the limited duration of the course. Conclusions. An interactive art-based medical education program was offered to medical students, PhD students, house officers, surgical residents and surgeons in two well known Dutch museums. Participants expressed enthusiasm for the innovative educational approach they experienced at the museums. They learned about the importance of critical observation in their professional work, handling of ambiguity and got the opportunity to practice both observational and communicational skills in a creative manner. The findings indicate that medical students and surgical residents can benefit from art-based observational training, using art as a vehicle to develop their professional competencies. Clin Ter 2024; 175 (2):101-109 doi: 10.7417/CT.2024.5040.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalLa Clinica terapeutica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • Art-based training
  • Medical education
  • Museum Medical humanities
  • Observational skills
  • Personal bias
  • Visual Thinking Strategies

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