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Erie Art Museum

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Family Medicine Students Hone Observation Skills at the Erie Art Museum

Erie, PA, November 30, 2007 --( Family medicine students at Saint Vincent Health Center are learning the skill of observation through a unique family medicine and art museum partnership program sponsored by Saint Vincent Health Center and the Erie Art Museum.

Often referred to as “the Art of Observation”, a best practices model adapted from other hospitals-museums from across the country, shows medical students how observing art can improve a doctor’s clinical skills and doctor-patient relationships.

“In recent years, medical schools around the country have begun adding observation skills training to their curriculum,” said Bruce Gebhardt, MD family medicine physician from Saint Vincent Health Center. “In fact, several schools are now offering courses using visual arts to facilitate students learning the skill of observation.”

For several months, 20 Family Medicine students from Saint Vincent Health Center have been working with Erie Art Museum education director Kelly Armor in discussion and interpretation of pieces from the Erie Art Museum’s permanent collection.

“The primary goal of the course is to improve communication and observational skills used in the patient-doctor relationship by guided instruction in observation, description, interpretation, and reflection of the visual arts,” said Armor.

On Monday, Nov. 19 beginning at 7 p.m., students will participate in a tour at the Erie Art Museum. Armor will lead students through the galleries and engage them in discussion about the works of art using educational method Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).

“VTS uses art to teach thinking, communication skills and visual literacy. It’s been proven to measurably increase observation skills, evidential reasoning and the ability to find multiple solutions to complex problems,” said Armor. “VTS has proven to show transfer of skills from art experience to thinking and communicating about other images, objects and topics.”

According to Gebhardt, several courses in medical school aim to teach students skills in the doctor-patient relationship, but there are definite skills that students learn as a result of the observation program. “In addition to the obvious exposure to art and art museums, students feel they gained in description and understanding of the doctor-patient relationship and a greater awareness of challenges in being a doctor.”

About the Erie Art Museum
The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multi-disciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 5,500 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, free on Wednesdays, $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students and $2 for children under 12.

For additional information on the Erie Art Museum, visit online at or call (814) 459-5477.

Contact Information
Erie Art Museum
Tammy Roche

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