Will adding humanities to the med school curriculum help make for a better doctor? That's what this article from the New York Times explores. It talks about whether art appreciation can help sharpen a physician-to-be's ability to notice details and generally be more observant of patients. I don't know if it helps or not with their clinical skills, but the more well-rounded a doc—or anyone, for that matter—is, the better they're able to do their jobs. Humans are pretty complex animals, and when we let a part of ourselves wither, I tend to believe the whole organism suffers.
And there are other ways art and medicine intersect. I remember speaking with a CME professional who included artwork from people afflicted with a certain disease into her conference, and it made the docs see these patients in a different, more human light. And there's the Foundation for Hospital Art, which helps corporate groups (including pharma groups) make art projects as a activity, then donates the results to hospitals to perk up their walls. And think of all the work that's been done in institutional design to determine which colors, shapes, and patterns help patients feel comfortable and soothed.
It can't possibly hurt to give future docs a look into the artist's world and pick up from it what they will. If nothing else, it will stretch their minds out of their accustomed patterns, and that can only make for a better doc.
Thanks to Anne Taylor-Vaisey for the pointer.