study published in Ophthalmology asked, are artists better observers than medical students? The short answer? Yes.

The study design:
Thirty-six first year ophthalmology residents volunteered for the study. They all took a baseline observational skills test where they were asked to describe three photographs. Half of them received up to nine hours of training in “artful thinking”, an approach which focuses on “introspection and observation before interpretation”. The other half were used as controls. After the training, they took another observational skills test.

What did they find?
At the end of the training, there was a significant improvement in observational skills among the residents who had the training compared to those who didn’t.

Why is this important?
Art observation training, something that is not explicitly taught in most medical schools, can improve clinical observational skills.