Visual literacy (VL) is the ability to understand, interpret and evaluate visual messages; by looking in detail at artworks, this skill can be successfully developed for clinical practice. Applicability of VL to medicine was pioneered by Harvard Medical School, where a programme in VL is a standard part of the medical school programme. Subsequently successful pilot VL training for dermatology trainees in the UK and dermatology residents in the US provided further evidence for the utility of VL training in dermatology. Inspired by our experience in the UK, a number of highly successful VL training courses were run for dermatologists (both trainees and consultants) in Manchester and London, UK between 2015 and 2017.
The evaluation of the courses run by Professor Chris Griffiths and Dr Helen Young in Manchester and Dr Sarah Walsh in London demonstrate a number of benefits. These include: improved clinical observational and analytical skills; qualitative improvements in communication; reflection; respect for colleagues and listening skills.
The course will be run by two experienced arts educators, led by Helena Tomlin, with input from dermatologists who have led in the previous programmes in Manchester and London.
The training programme for European Consultant Dermatologists will build upon the unique but vital contribution of VL to dermatology training, and share best practice across Europe. We have found, through our past programmes, that consultant dermatologists need to engage with the concept of VL themselves before they can develop work in art galleries with their trainees. The emphasis of the training programme will be on collaboration and sharing, with each workshop designed to promote discussion and critical debate; specifically:
- gain knowledge of the key concepts of VL.
- enable participants to use different thematic approaches in the development of their own observational skills and personal reflection.
- provide participants with an understanding of the range of educational opportunities for dermatology that are available in art galleries, and how to use these in conjunction with dermatology resources available in clinical practice (such as slides/photographs/texts).