Art Rounds

The humanities sing to the professional’s soul

Art Rounds is a program developed in 2009 by Craig Klugman and Diana Beckmann-Mendez while at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the McNay Museum of Art. Drawing on the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) of teaching art to children, Art Rounds focuses on teaching visual literacy to health care professionals and health care students.


What distinguishes Art Rounds from other other efforts to teach visual literacy to health students is its graduated, interdisciplinary approach. Health care providers work as a team in the hospital, so shouldn’t they be educated together? By placing students in an unfamiliar environment (an art museum), we bring together students who normally would not meet each other until they start treating real patients.

Craig Klugman, chair of the Department of Health Sciences, leads a discussion with his students as they visit the “Rooted In Soil” exhibit Monday, April 6, 2015, at the DePaul Art Museum. Faculty members can utilize the museum as an additional classroom for their teaching. Here, Klugman was pointing out the various states of human decomposition in photographs of a “body farm” captured by artist Sally Mann. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

Teaching students to improve observation skills through the use of VTS is only Step 1. In further steps, we teach them to listen to one another, to identify how working with others can effect what they see, and how knowledge of a piece or art (or a patient) can change how see it. Lastly, Art Rounds takes what students have learned and applies those skills to looking at people. In evaluations of this program, we found that teaching people how to observe art helped them to observe art, but it was only when we added the element of looingk at people that our students improved their ability to see their patients.

Craig Klugman, chair of the Department of Health Sciences, leads a discussion with his students as they visit the “Rooted In Soil” exhibit Monday, April 6, 2015, at the DePaul Art Museum. Faculty members can utilize the museum as an additional classroom for their teaching. Exhibit curator and acting director Laura Fatemi was also on hand to discuss the exhibit. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

This program has been used at UT Health San Antonio, DePaul University, University of Nevada School of Medicine, University of Illinois Rockford, and Harvard University. We have worked with the McNay Museum of Art, DePaul Art Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, and a demonstration at the Chicago Institute of Art in conducting Art Rounds. The program can run as a half-day of full day method, multiple week program (4 sessions), to a full term course (when combined with lectures nf the importance of viewing in various medical specialties). In addition, we have provided train-the-trainer programs to schools looking to integrate these programs into student orientation, coursework, and programming.

You can access our studies on Art Rounds in Academic Medicine and the Journal of Nursing Education. Reports of the program have appeared in ScienceDaily, San Antonio Express News, and Oncology Nurse Advisor.

If you would like more information or would like training in Art Rounds, please contact us. 

Educator, writer, and consultant in bioethics and health humanities

%d bloggers like this: