Several medical schools throughout Canada and the United States have, in recent years, been using the Visual Thinking Strategies approach (VTS) in their curricula as a tool for improving visual diagnostic skills, communication and critical thinking for their students. The programme was first introduced at Harvard, then branched out to include schools such as the University of Washington, the University of Miami, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto, to name just a few. Research from many of these programs has shown that the study of visual arts, with specific reference to VTS training, can be very useful in building these skills.
Through VTS, medical students study, discuss and deeply engage with various works of art. In so doing, students develop observation, communication and critical thinking skills which can be successfully transferred to medical practice. As well, because there is an “active listening” component within the VTS model, students develop the crucial skill of open, neutral, non-judgmental listening. Furthermore, the VTS approach can be used as a tool to aid communication between and among groups in multidisciplinary settings. Doctors, nurses, social workers, physio and occupational therapists within a clinic setting are just a few professionals who could benefit from learning how to apply Visual Thinking Strategies in their respective fields.
At ” Art of Looking”, we can work with educators at schools, universities, colleges and private medical clinics to develop programmes which are suited to the needs of the individual facility. As well, the VTS approach can be used in other medical and service oriented fields to the same effect. This includes disciplines such as social work, occupational therapy, police work and many more. We will develop a programme, in consultation with the people in your clinical or educational setting, which will meet the specific training needs of your staff and students.