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Art and Medicine

The practice of medicine has always been described as both an art and a science. While the scientific aspects of medicine are important, the art of medicine should not be overlooked.

Dr. Susan Baumgaertel is a physician in internal medicine who has had a lifelong connection to art. Her mother was an artist, and she grew up surrounded by her paintings. This influence continued into her pre-med college education in architecture and urban planning. Throughout her career, Dr. B has integrated her love of art into her practice of medicine at myMDadvocate.

Dr. B's love of art is evident in her office suite. She has at least a dozen of her mother's paintings, with some of the special ones in her exam rooms. Even when her office moved, the paintings moved with her. Dr. B also has two nude paintings from the mid-1980s in her exam rooms, as well as more abstract paintings to balance out the optics. Many of her patients strike up a conversation about a particular painting, and it is always fascinating to Dr. B that they have such a deep appreciation for the artwork.

One particular experience stands out to Dr. B. One of her patients, a lovely woman in her mid-seventies who lives in Montana, would travel to Seattle for her annual exam. On one visit, Dr. B noticed that she was standing up and looking intently at one of the paintings, as if in an art gallery. She quickly recovered and they moved forward with their medical discussion and physical exam. A few days later, Dr. B received a beautiful letter from her, explaining her experience with the painting. The painting had elicited strong feelings in her, and it reminded her of her daughter's love of the ocean and the way the seabirds flocked together. She enclosed a copy of a photo taken of her daughter and her husband at Long Beach in 1978. The letter brings a tear to Dr. B's eye every time she reads it.

Dr. B's experience highlights the power of art in medicine. Art has the ability to connect people, evoke strong emotions, and provide comfort. In a world where medicine can often be cold and clinical, art can provide a human touch. It can also serve as a tool for patients to express themselves, communicate their feelings, and cope with their illnesses.

Studies have shown that incorporating art into medical settings can have numerous benefits. Art has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain in patients. It can also improve patient satisfaction, enhance communication between patients and healthcare providers, and improve the overall environment of a medical facility. In addition, art can also serve as a form of education for medical professionals. Viewing art can enhance observation skills, stimulate critical thinking, and foster creativity.

Incorporating art into medicine can take many forms. It can be as simple as hanging paintings on the walls of a medical facility or playing calming music in the waiting room. It can also involve more immersive experiences, such as art therapy programs for patients or educational programs for medical professionals. Some medical schools even incorporate art into their curriculum to enhance the training of future physicians.

Art is not just a decorative element in medicine, but a powerful tool that can enhance patient care and improve the overall well-being of patients and medical professionals. As Dr. B's experience demonstrates, art can provide a human touch to the often-clinical practice of medicine. It can also serve as a reminder of the beauty of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. As medical professionals continue to search for ways to improve patient care, incorporating art into medicine should be a consideration. Art has the ability to heal, comfort, and inspire, making it an essential component of the practice of medicine.

Here is the link for the original article.


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