Art & Medicine Programs

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts works with area medical schools to provide humanities-based training opportunities for medical students, nursing students, university faculty members and practicing physicians. Program offerings include content-based talks and workshops introducing historic collaborations between artists and doctors that advanced understanding of the human body, as well as hands-on and "eyes-on" exercises that build new skills with clinical applications. The main goal of the program is to enhance the training of medical practitioners by improving their visual literacy, in order to translate these enhanced observational skills into the ability to better perform differential diagnoses and to reason pathophysiology from visual evidence.

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Exercises led by trained Museum Staff focus on examination and observation, not historical interpretation, and create a space in busy medical curricula for students and faculty to consider the importance of non-clinical skills in their practice, like accurate visual observations, empathy, teamwork, emotional intelligence, and the importance of enhanced visual vocabulary in contemporary medical practice. PAFA currently works with three area schools—Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Drexel University College of Medicine and Cooper Medical School at Rowan University—each of whom design the humanities-portion of their curricula in different ways.

Current program elements available for new partners include:

  • Close looking exercises in the galleries
  • Anatomy drawing workshops with trained artists
  • Lectures on historic collaborations between artists and doctors
  • Talks and workshops on art as a therapeutic modality for patients and practitioners
  • Team-building exercises
  • Workshops on building empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Workshops on learning to communicate visually

Programs are fee-based and available for all area medical schools and practitioners. Staff are also trained in implementing evaluation strategies to measure student learning throughout workshops and coursework.  Interested in learning more or being a part of this program? Contact Museum Education for more information.


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PAFA offers programs for artists and art lovers of all ages and skill levels who want to learn about and make art.