The given paper discusses the articles by Kathleen Edmonds and Margaret F. Hammond who studied the effects of cross-disciplinary program for medical students. These students joined the program which was aimed at combining medical science and arts. It was conducted England, in Tate Liverpool gallery with the involvement of the gallery specialists. It was based on opening Doors learning course provided by the gallery but adjusted to medical curriculum. 

The main purpose of the analyzed program was to provide a humanistic insight for science students. Those medical trainees were expected to learn about arts as a way of thinking and employ the new skills in their medical practices through exercising broader vision. One of the aims of the course was to give the opportunity to the students to explore perception, communication, emotion and narrative and further apply the new experience in their practice.

The researchers investigated the educational potential of cross-disciplinary approach through a number of methods which included surveys and focus groups addressing the impressions of the participating students as well as short-term and long-term outputs. The authors came to the conclusion that the program serves its aims and cross-disciplinary approach in education can be considered a useful developmental tool.


The article under analysis is written by Kathleen Edmonds and Margaret F. Hammond. Its title asks the question: how can visual arts help doctors develop medical insight? Respectively the article summarize the research which  has become the result of the joint effort of the two teams of medical students from Liverpool University School of Medicine and Glynd%u0175r University Institute of Health, Medical Sciences and Society as well as learning team Tate Liverpool gallery. The latter is referred by the authors as “the home of the National Collection of Modern Arts in the North of England and one of the largest galleries of modern and contemporary art outside London” (2012, p. 78).

This research project which is in focus of the article was intended to examine the link between medical insight and the visual arts. The given project has become an adaptation of Tate Liverpool’s Opening Doors course aimed at engaging “students in exploring perception, communication, emotion and narrative” (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 78). The main objective of the initial project was to familiarize its participant with modern and contemporary art what was supposed to open new visions and approaches in the work the course participants were involved in. The course offered the exercises which fulfilled the described aim. “The exercises used as part of the program allowed us to observe what connections and interpretations were made, and to discuss with the participants what influenced student choice and decision making in relation to specific works of art” (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 78).

The article under analysis explores the given project in particular and in general the use of such sited as galleries for educational purposes. The authors tried to investigate the links between two fields which seem to be to great extent unrelated: art and medicine. Thus they tried to uncover educational potential of art for medical students. The given study is one of the examples of cross-disciplinary approach which is widely used nowadays in education for developing transferable skills.

Background information

When designing the project the researchers referred to the previous studies of connection between medical science and arts and relied on such medical humanities position as “art allows insight into the human condition” (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 79). Classical approach to medical training is purely science based. The inclusion of humanistic element in the training process le development of leads to broader general vision of healthcare specialists what is expected to be valuable benefit for patients. Another important objective of the project was to create the conditions in which students can learn not only to observe not only of physical representation but also take into account emotion and narrative which are also quite important when making a diagnostic decision. Cross-disciplinary medical humanities course delivered both in healthcare and social settings empowers the students with the respective knowledge and skills and creates the conditions for transferring the m in practice.

The analyzed project used some of the materials and practices offered by Opening Doors course though the professional group was different. It involved the specialists from the gallery and medical schools. Moreover, the program was specifically designed for medical students and took into account the peculiarities of their curriculum. “The project utilized trained art educators in devising and piloting a single-day program for medical students, which engaged students in exploring perception, communication, emotion, narrative, and intuition” (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 79).

Research analysis

The researched program has a number of objectives including getting to know gallery settings, engaging students with modern and contemporary art on the critical level, acquiring the skills of self-reflection, exploring individual perceptions, learning the basics of group communication, investigating individual’s views, perspectives, biases and experiences, analyzing methodologies employed, and working out the recommendations for future.  When studying the given program as educational approach the researchers questioned a number of aspects of it. Primarily they studied educational potential of the program.  “What skills are developed or attitudes challenged through such a program?” – that was the first research question (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 80). The researchers were also interested in the way the participating students understood the relationship between medicine and art and how that might be relevant to their field of study. The research also analyzed the difference in the responses and tried to connect it with sex or year of study. Another area of interest of the researchers was related to future implementation of the program. They were trying to figure out how to raise the motivation of students to participate in that kind of cross-disciplinary courses, in particular how to explain the importance and raise the interest among those who

Participation in the research was anonymous and the participants were categorized on the basis of gender, age, and year of study. Possible ethical concerns of the research were taken into account. The authors state that “the sample was two groups of ten medical students, from the University of Liverpool, participating on two different days”. The sample of students was self-selected and further randomized. Participation in the study was on voluntary basis.

The researchers employed three methods: “1) an immediate evaluation of the day; 2) written reflections on the perceptions of the perceived value to personal and professional development; 3) use of a smaller focus group, with an independent facilitator, that took place one month after the second pilot day” (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, p. 81). Thus the researcher took into account immediate impressions the program day, developmental impact, and long-term self-reflection results.  

The researchers provided a number of generalized findings. Primarily the study proved that the cross-disciplinary program reached a number of its objectives. Fir of all, students managed to develop “skills of observation and analysis through using the visual arts” and further apply these skills in practice. Students also reported the development of other skills like, the skill of making judgments, decision-making, reflecting and self-reflecting, and others. Gallery settings were also found as effective tool to challenge perceptions, address preconceptions, and evoke emotional response. Gallery was also found useful in “transferring skills from one area to another”. Students also claimed that the confidence in expressing their opinions was enhanced “through recognizing and validating different decision making”. The researchers also proved that students are able to build and utilize the links between art and medicine. The tested students also claimed that they find it important to apply the acquired skills and competences in their clinical practice (Edmonds, Hammond, 2012, pp. 83-86).


The study analyzed in the article How Can Visual Arts Help Doctors Develop Medical Insight? Analyzes one of the cross-disciplinary approaches in education aimed to link the areas of humanities and medical science to provide the incentives for broader vision in medical students what could benefit their patients in future. The researcher found the program to be very effective. It fulfills its aims and creates the conditions for further development of the participants. The researchers didn’t investigate if the program raises the interest to visual arts and encourages students for further development of their knowledge in the given area what hypothetically might be true. In general, the given research is another proof of effectiveness of interdisciplinary approaches in education which aim at enhancing broader vision of specialists and helping them to learn new perspectives of their professional area.