Whether it’s the creative dimensions of medical decisionmaking or the many ways difficult patients are really difficult stories, the importance of thinking like an artist or a writer is what drives much of my teaching and academic writing. Such a focus values particular habits that aren’t typical fare in medical education--such as risk-taking, embracing failure, comfort with uncertainty and ambiguity, imaginative flexibility, working with constraints, an openness to alternative perspectives, and the importance of iteration.
This requires untraditional methods. My teaching and curriculum projects at Alpert Medical School have been rooted in interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations, bringing medical students into conversations with law students at Roger Williams University Law School, art students and artists at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), theater students with the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program, and educators at the RISD Museum.
Medicine is at a crossroads, and I believe that any meaningful response to the challenges facing healthcare providers, patients and their families first requires that we reconceptualize the traditional healthcare team to include medical disciplines, humanities scholars, designers and artists.