New University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Students Make Their First Rounds on Downtown Artwork

UNR Med first-year students study observation and communications skills during inaugural Art Rounds program

Med students at Art Rounds

First-year medical students at UNR Med learn observation skills through art that will help them communicate with patients, as part of a new workshop, Art Rounds, during MedFIT orientation.

RENO, Nev. - The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine's incoming class of medical students made their first rounds on an atypical group of patients this afternoon - murals and artwork in downtown Reno.

The 70 students who comprise the class of 2021 participated in Art Rounds, an inaugural workshop that is part of a two-week orientation to UNR Med called MedFIT that precedes the start of the school year Aug. 14. Art Rounds uses visual thinking strategies and art to teach observation skills, communication and teamwork and comfort with ambiguity to medical students, which can decrease their biases when diagnosing patients.

"Art Rounds is about first-year medical students seeing beyond their first reaction," said Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk, dean of UNR Med. "It's important for students to take a step back and take a fresh look when developing a hypothesis about treating a patient. This awareness, observation and ability to question what they see happens with art."

Students began their rounds at the E.L. Cord Museum School in the Nevada Museum of Art or the Sierra Arts Gallery. After learning about visual thinking strategies and participating in an art exercise, students rounded on various murals in downtown Reno. At each piece of art, students answered questions such as, "What do you see? What specifically makes you draw that conclusion? What more do you see?"

Art Rounds also exposed the students to Reno's burgeoning downtown arts and culture scene. One of the goals of MedFIT is to help new medical students feel a part of the larger community.

"This program gets students out of the classroom and clinics and into the community to experience all that Reno and Sparks has to offer, so they feel not only a part of the School of Medicine, but a part of the northern Nevada community," said Cherie Singer, Ph.D., associate dean, UNR Med Admissions and Student Affairs. "The exercise is intellectually stimulating and gets them to think differently about how what they've observed can be applied on a patient."

A grant through the Dean's Faculty Development Support Program at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine funded the training of faculty and staff in Art Rounds by former University of Nevada, Reno ethics professor, Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

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The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.