In this photo essay, students at the School of Medicine scrutinize art — all in order become better doctors. Their elective course, “Visual Thinking: How to Observe in Depth,” is designed to expand observational and critical-thinking skills.

“It’s about making observations,” explains co-instructor Tamara Moats, adjunct faculty in art history at the UW Museology Program. “It’s irrelevant that they’re looking at art — what they’re gaining is the ability to really look at something, and that is a skill that is perfectly adaptable to medical diagnosis.”

Colored pencils fly out of the box for a drawing assignment at the Frye Art Museum on Seattle’s First Hill. “Leonardo [da Vinci] knew the value of drawing, and basically invented scientific illustration for this purpose during the Renaissance,”
says Moats.

“You medical students, as scientists, should learn to draw what you see. Not how to draw — that implies more training — but how to look even more closely, and repeatedly,” says Moats. “The act of drawing challenges you to learn even more deeply about the subject.”

By Clare McLean