Get All Access for $5/mo

Med Students Are Studying Art. Here's Why You Should, Too. A recent study found that observing and discussing works of art can help people develop skills in other fields.

By Rose Leadem

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jupiterimages | Getty Images

Artists aren't the only professionals who can boost their skills by visiting galleries and studying the creations of others. In fact, a background in the visual arts may help anyone develop their observation, interpretation, description and research abilities.

A recent study published in the medical journal Opthalmology found that medical students who studied art observation became better clinical observers and became more open-minded to others' opinions.

Related: 6 Ways to Show People You're Really Listening

In the experiment, researchers divided 36 first-year medical students into two groups. One group took a series of six classes in "Artful Thinking" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while the other did not receive any formal training in art observation. The "Artful Thinking" courses were taught by local art professionals, and they focused on introspection and observation before interpretation. They exposed students to various works of art, and they involved group discussions and arts vocabulary training as teaching tools.

Participants of both groups took assessments before and after the experiment, which asked students to describe retinal and facial disease photographs. The students who had completed the six-course series showed improved observational skills because the courses taught them how to break down complex visual information -- in this case, artwork.

Related: Why the Best Entrepreneurs Are Decisive, Not Close-Minded

The researchers found that art observation training helped students make accurate observations, or in some cases, diagnoses. However, the results of the research go beyond the advantages of studying art. Through group discussions, the students learned to appreciate and absorb others' opinions and differing viewpoints. The environment created through art observation teachings provided students with opportunities to hear others' thoughts on new or unfamiliar topics in cases where the answers or results were previously unclear.

These findings can extend beyond the medical field, too. Cultivating strong observational skills may help broaden a person's understanding of subjects and develop empathy -- an important trait for a leader or executive.

Related: Listening Is an Art, and Mastering It Will Make You a Great Leader

"I believe I've become more open-minded as a result of the course primarily because of the discussions we had as a group," one study participant shared. "I'm not sure that improving my observational skills increased my ability to emphasize, but recognizing the validity of others' opinions certainly did."

Rose Leadem is a freelance writer for 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Transformed a Graphics Card Company Into an AI Giant: 'One of the Most Remarkable Business Pivots in History'

Here's how Nvidia pivoted its business to explore an emerging technology a decade in advance.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Want to Start a Business? Skip the MBA, Says Bestselling Author

Entrepreneur Josh Kaufman says that the average person with an idea can go from working a job to earning $10,000 a month running their own business — no MBA required.


Why Hearing a 'No' is the Best 'Yes' for an Entrepreneur

Throughout the years, I have discovered that rejection is an inevitable part of entrepreneurship, and learning to embrace it is crucial for achieving success.