So, the question: Is medicine an art or science?
The answer (as with most things in life): there’s a debate. Or, rather, there exists more than one right answer!
Both sides make valid arguments. Art tout-ers maintain that patients and physicians are different. It is this individuality that makes medicine an art form – patient care requires personalized care and non-cookie-cutter, creative judgment that is art.
According to the science-side promoters – medicine as art?! Not so much. Medicine relies on research and scientific evidence to shape guidelines for improving clinical outcomes. Art is not a science.
Why is this important?
Firstly, understanding your physicians practice and point of view is important. The way your primary care physician, surgeon or hospital answers this question may determine whether you live or die.
Secondly, who says medicine can’t be both an art and a science?!
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Behind those words exists a story…The specialized study of Medical Illustration surely serves as an example of art as a form of medicine. Check out an anatomy book. Someone drew that! But, there’s more.
A growing movement called Graphic Medicine aims to use the science of medicine as an art in a less technical way, if you will. The combination of pictures and words, typically in comic form, aims to address:
Reflecting or changing cultural perceptions of medicine
Relating the subjective patient/career/provider experience
Enabling discussion of difficult subjects
Helping other sufferers or careers
..just to name a few of its purposes.
The debate as to whether medicine is an art or science continues. For how long, who knows...
Personally, I have found that art provides an outlet – a sort of journaling that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit. My drawings, some of which are viewable above, are born from self-introspective, and created to provoke thought.
Art in a sense becomes a way to enhance one's sight, both in the mind and the environment. If kinesthesia refers to one's awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body, art arguably exists as an extension of this awareness.
So what do you think? Is medicine art? Maybe it’s only science. Maybe it’s both…
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT