Medicine and the Humanities

How would you like to increase your levels of wisdom, empathy, self-efficacy, emotional appraisal, and spatial skills while decreasing your intolerance of ambiguity, physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and cognitive weariness? Who wouldn’t want to play this game, right? According to a 2018 study, exposure to humanities such as literature, music, theater, and visual arts provides these benefits.

But medicine is all about scientific information and knowledge, right? Isn’t it about data-driven decision making? In the current climate of meaningful use and clinical documentation improvement requirements, is there room for anything besides data in the practice of medicine?

The answer is that multiple studies confirm the benefits of incorporating the arts and humanities into the practice of medicine, not only to benefit patients (music therapy, anyone?), but for the good of the providers as well. We don’t have to be doctors, though, to recognize that the same principles apply to us as scribes when it comes to our own empathy and emotional wellbeing.

If you’d like to increase your observational skills, study art. To listen better and improve communication, listen to music. To better empathize, dance or write a poem, or both. To collaborate better, perform in an ensemble. To avoid burnout, take a sculpting class. Both the arts and medicine build on a foundational level of skill built up over practice, and then they take on layers of artistic interpretation to bring about astonishing results. Get started layering now!

(Similarly, the physical and emotional benefits of exercise in the practice of medicine are well-documented and worthy of a separate article at another time.)

If you’re interested in reading more about medicine and the arts, check out these links: 

(Anne Bean is a Scribe Training Administrator with AQuity Solutions and plays violin with a local string quartet.)

(Reprinted from June 2019 Vital Signs, AQuity Solutions Scribing Services Newsletter)