Dellasega, C., George, D. R., & Lokon, E. (2023). The Transformative Power of Participating in Opening Minds through Art (OMA), an Expressive Arts Program for Medical Students. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education.
Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) is a standardized expressive arts-based program that improves student attitudes toward Persons Living with Dementia (PLWD). Understanding how this change occurs is important for both educators and clinicians. In this study, narrative analysis was used to explore the impact of OMA on participating medical students. 111 students at six medical schools accepted an invitation to be part of OMA during the 2018-2020 academic years. After completing the program, participants were asked to write briefly about the impact of their OMA experience on their work as future physicians. These narratives were analyzed to identify themes relevant to the impact of the program. Students described appreciating both pragmatic and novel creative experiences in OMA, which differed from their traditional studies. Themes from the evaluation included: Inter and Intrapersonal Connection and Growth; Mastery of Anticipated Challenges; Acquisition of Knowledge and Skills; and Appreciation of Health Care Team Members. Teaching students to embrace clinical work with challenging and perceived “difficult” patients is often unaddressed in the medical school curriculum. This study suggests that the combination of medical knowledge and artistic expression can be used to benefit both students and PLWD.