Purpose: The Art Rounds program uses visual thinking strategies (VTS) to teach visual observation skills to medical and nursing students at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. This study's goal was to evaluate whether students' exposure to VTS would improve their physical observation skills, increase tolerance for ambiguity, and increase interest in learning communication skills.
Method: In January 2010, 32 students attended three, 90-minute sessions at which they observed and commented on three pieces of art in small groups led by museum educators. Pre and posttest evaluations included Geller and colleagues' version of Budner's Tolerance of Ambiguity Scale, the Communication Skills Attitudes Scale, and free responses to art and patient images. Statistical analyses compared pre and post time looking at images, number of words used to describe images, and number of observations made according to gender and discipline.
Results: Students significantly increased the amount of time they spent looking at art and patient images (P = .007), the number of words they used to describe art (P = .002) and patient images (P = .019), and the number of observations made of art (P = .000) and patient images (P = .001). Females increased the time spent observing significantly more than did males (P = .011). Students significantly increased their tolerance for ambiguity (P = .033) and positive views toward health care professional communication skills (P = .001).
Conclusions: The authors speculate that these improved skills may help in patient care and interprofessional team interactions.