Art and adult learning

Organizations that lead CE/CME initiatives and define CE/CME standards are clear in asking for educational programs that incorporate good adult learning practices. A number of influential organizations, including American Medical Association (AMA), Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), and Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions (ACEhp), have called for the integration of adult learning techniques into CME programs.1 The ACEhp has identified the need to "emphasize the role of reflection to facilitate adult learning" as a factor in designing effective CME programs.2 It is important to stimulate clinician participation through the use of active educational techniques.3
The use of art in CE/CME can help to keep the clinician grounded in the real world. “Learning for adults is always related to their real lives, their real problems and their real issues, and we therefore need to try to understand and make links with these in order for [learning] to be meaningful, relevant and effective.”4

Incorporating art into CE/CME programs accomplishes these goals. It provides benefits that make the adult learning experience both memorable and relevant:

  • The learner's attention is refocused throughout the program
  • The learner is touched at an emotional level that goes beyond didactic learning
  • The learner is reminded of the importance of the practice of medicine beyond the scientific application
  • The learner is reminded of the clinical relevance of the information being presented

[1] Global Education Group. CME crossroads: A survey of continuing medical education analysis, criticism, research and policy proposals. 2010. Available at:   Accessed November 8, 2010.

[2] Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions. Alliance for Continuing Education competency areas for CME professionals. Competencies analysis report. Available at:  Accessed November 8, 2010.

[3] Soumerai SB, Avorn J. Principles of academic outreach ('academic detailing') to improve clinical decision making. JAMA. 1990;263(4):549-556.

[4] Tusting K, Barton D. Models of adult learning: a literature review. National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy. 2003. Available at: Accessed January 21, 2012.
                                                    Image by Sura Nualpradid