UTRECHT, 3rd – 6th June 2019 – The new UMake centre in Utrecht has designed an excellent series of lectures in which to explore relationships between medicine and the arts. I was invited to one of the workshops organised by Sven Dupré and Maaike Bleeker investigating the role of senses in the transmission of knowledge, with the goal to also develop a pilot art track in the medical curriculum. These were the workshop’s main questions:
(1) What is the role of sensory skills in the transmission of knowledge?
(2) Given the ephemerality of skills, sensory knowledge, tactility, scent and motion, how do we capture or document it? And how can or should we do this with an eye towards its re-use as a media technology in educational settings?
(3) In what ways can or should we develop a medical curriculum in which the making of art plays a substantial role? in what ways can we shape this exchange between the arts and medicine so that it is also beneficial to the arts?
The gathered group was incredibly accomplished and creative. There were talks and workshops by Manon Parry, Marieke Hendriksen, Paul Craddock, Caro Verbeek, Anne van Veen, Kaisu Koski, Jur Koksma and Valentijn Byvanck, many of which are collaborators with the Making Clinical Sense project. Roger and Dusia Kneebone delivered the public lecture. You can find details of my workshop and photos of what participants made below.
Also, see this video link for an incredible film made by artist-researchers Anne van Veen and Kaisu Koski, which resulted from my workshop. With their instructional films and objects Anne and Kaisu explore various cruelty-free materials and performativity in surgical education. The collaboration merges their interest in surgical skills, ASMR and arts-based methods in clinical education.
From Critical Thinking to Critical Making: Craft and Everyday Design in Medical Education
The intense effort in instructional design in medical education has the potential to overlook the more mundane and yet incredibly rich practices of everyday design. Everyday design in medical schools is tinkering work involving adaption or making in creative acts of repurpose. Hardly a new practice in medicine – tinkerers and makers have often radically transformed the field with their inventions, take the stethoscope for example – these are skills however which can be lost as medical education strives for efficiency, standardisation and objectivity. In this practical workshop we will joyfully celebrate small acts of everyday design and the craftsmanship of training healthcare professionals. The workshop draws empirically from an ongoing anthropological and historical study of the role of technologies in training doctors’ sensory skills of diagnosis. This study is one of the first collaborative and comparative social studies of medical training, with fieldwork already conducted by a team of anthropologists, science and technology studies scholars and historians in medical schools in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and West Africa. In these medical schools we have found, and been inspired by, everyday acts of making. In the workshop I will begin by sharing sensory images of, and stories about, teachers’ materials and innovations. I will put these examples into a broader narrative about design and critical making, areas of scholarship and practice I suggest offer fresh new perspectives on how to approach medical teaching. I sill suggest that attending to everyday design is not only a creative and enlightening practice, but a necessary one, in order to train adaptive, creative healthcare professionals of the future. Then we will make, attending closely to materials that could be or are used (for the medical educators in the room) in teaching. It will be a workshop in further training our imaginations, to share and consider new creative possibilities for how to teach doctors sensory diagnostic skills for examining patients. We will use materials that I will bring in (though feel free to bring your own materials), your own bodies, pens, paper or anything else we come up with on the spot and that you feel comfortable and inspired to use.