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Looking with Uncertainty: Inquiries into Visual Art, Practices for Good Medicine

Date and Time

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.


  • DeVos Center » 122E - Loosemore Auditorium



Looking with Uncertainty: Inquiries into Visual Art, Practices for Good Medicine

Oct 2, 7:00-9:00 pm, Loosemore Auditorium


In reckoning with a healthcare system bleeding US lives and dollars in staggering figures, many patient safety experts share a deep concern about an unexpected human quality: the way in which caregivers and leaders respond to uncertainty. This talk describes why navigating uncertainty is the most important challenge that healthcare providers face in their daily work, and how the path to learning this art may be expedited and demystified in an unlikely place: arts experiences. After almost two decades of arts-based teaching with medical learners, close observation of masterful clinical teachers, and rigorous study in the literatures on patient engagement, clinical reasoning, and arts and human development, Miller has noticed that masterful clinicians engage with uncertainty markedly differently than is the norm. This talk shares her Looking with UncertaintySM framework for shifting uncertainty from an enemy to an ally for collaboration, discovery, and co-creation of health. Sharing insights from research as well as stories from Miller’s path as a teacher and collaborator across the disciplines of art and medicine, this talk identifies the challenges, opportunities, paradoxes, and influences of uncertainty, and how it can be leveraged to make—rather than break—trust, learning and care between humans.


Workshop and teaching discussion:  Wednesday, Oct 3, 11:30 am, Room 430 CHS.  

Art and Medical Initiatives:  The Role of Art in Learning for Medical Professionals 

11:30-12:30: Engaging as the Learner: Practicing visual thinking with art

12:30-1:00  Lunch

1:00-2:00: Engaging as the Educator: Discussion group for educators 


On Wednesday, Oct 3, Alexa will lead a mid-day workshop for students and faculty.  The first part of the workshop will engage the learner in visual thinking practices, working with selected art works from the GVSU collection. After lunch there will be a roundtable discussion for educators, on art and medical initiatives in the classroom.  Faculty, students, and staff are welcome to attend all or part of the Wednesday session.   We will meet in 430 CHS. 


Bio sketch


Artist-turned-medical-educator Alexa Miller is a leading voice for observation and inquiry practices in medicine, and for their cultivation in arts experiences. An original co-creator of Harvard Medical School’s Training the Eye: Improving the Art of Physical Diagnosis, a course that produced researched outcomes on the impact of arts experiences on medical student learning, Miller has worked with medical learners and faculty in arts settings since 2003. Miller’s consultancy, Arts Practica, creates experiential learning opportunities that allow leaders, practitioners, and teachers in healthcare to be more effective and mindful in uncertainty. Driven by a strong personal interest in misdiagnosis and the intelligences that contribute to diagnostic safety, she serves on the Education Committee for the Society for the Improvement of Diagnosis in Medicine, where she will also serve as a 2018- 2019 fellow. Formerly Curator of Education at the Davis Museum, Alexa has taught undergraduate courses in Education at both Brandeis University and at Wellesley College, and facilitated a weekly Lab Group in the Interpersonal and Group Dynamics course at Yale School of Management. She received her BA from Swarthmore College and her MA from the Wimbledon School of Art.




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