Residents in ophthalmology at Queen’s University take part in a sculpture workshop in Agnes’s studio. Photo: Tim Forbes
Agnes partnered with the School of Medicine at Queen’s University on The Artistry of Medicine, a project where residents in ophthalmology participate in a sculpture workshop at Agnes. The aims of this collaboration are two-fold: to increase physician wellness and surgical hand dexterity.
These residents work in a high-stress job environment as they pursue their medical training and artmaking can be an outlet for nurturing their wellbeing. Beginning with a guided relaxation exercise, this workshop featured hands-on experiences in handling and moulding clay, developing their aesthetic eye and understanding of form. Often surgeons go into the profession because they enjoy using their hands; in particular, ophthalmologic surgery demands precision, careful attention to detail and excellent spatial awareness.
“In addition to exploring the relationship between art observation training and clinical observation skills, our study group has branched into examining the potential benefits of artmaking specifically for surgical residents. This is an exciting and relatively unexplored area of research,” says Dr Rachel Curtis, one of the workshop coordinators and a fourth-year resident. “The wellness component is extremely important for medical trainees due to the demanding nature of our lives at the hospital. Developing resilience and wellness strategies have become even more of a priority due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The pilot program is being evaluated with a questionnaire and a wet-lab based surgical skills test to determine the effectiveness of the program. The research from this initiative will influence the development of future visual arts programming between Agnes, the School of Medicine, as well as post graduate medical programs.