No matter where we are or what we are doing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are almost always observing. Our brains and senses work in harmony to give us information by which we mold our perceptions and understandings.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s next Mini Medical School will be an interactive odyssey into how we, as humans, observe. The series, titled, “The Art of Observation: From Gallery to Clinic,” is presented in partnership with the Taubman Museum of Art. The program will take place over three consecutive Wednesdays in January. Activities will be held Jan. 15 and 29 at the medical school and Jan. 22 at the art museum. The program begins at 5:30 each evening and runs until 7.

“From the information doctors gather through patient observations to the way artists portray the world around them, this Mini Medical School is sure to make you pay closer attention to what and how you observe,” said Dave Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture at the medical school. “We are delighted to partner with the Taubman Museum of Art on this, especially since scientific and artistic observation are so similar. Truly the only difference is what we are observing.”

The act of observing requires careful consideration and the inclusion of several points of view. It is, in a sense, an art.

“Participants will be challenged to try observing using different approaches,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “This flexes our observation muscles and strengthens this skill. It also teaches us how others observe, which leads to better observations as individuals and teams.”

In week one, participants will learn more about observation and will listen to  a panel of physicians who will review cases with both good and bad observation outcomes and share personal anecdotes.

Week two will be held at the Taubman where participants will have a chance to visit the galleries and participate in structured activities that are designed to strengthen observation skills as well as bring attention to team building, communication, and empathy.

On the final night, participants will learn more about clinical observation and will take part in a mock clinical encounter demonstrating the concept of implicit bias and the fact that attitudes or stereotypes can affect our understanding in an unconscious manner.

The cost for the Mini Medical School is $15. Registration is required.

For more information, contact Courtney Powell at 540-526-2588 or email her.

The Taubman Museum of Art strives to bring people and art together for discovery, learning, and enjoyment. The museum offers free general admission thanks to a grant from the Appalachian Power Foundation. The Mini Medical School is part of the museum’s goal to meet the community where they are by providing unique learning opportunities for professionals in the area through art.

As a reminder, faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech have free individual membership to the museum, which, in addition to free admission, includes exclusive discounts on art classes, special events, and full member benefits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Read more.

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