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Summer 2022 Program
University of Michigan Health Professions Students participated
in a program of arts-based education
designed by Dr Meg Chisolm with the assistance of Michigan faculty Dr Mary Blazek,
Director of the Medical Humanities Path of Excellence.
Students were helped to focus concretely on how we experience a work of art
and how we derive meaning from the experience.


Dr. Margaret smith Chisolm
Professor & Vice Chair for Education

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Director, Paul McHugh Program for Human Flourishing

Member, Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence


Meg Chisolm's path to success in academic medicine did not involve a conventional STEM-heavy basic science track. In college, she studied the history of film within a broader visual arts degree program. She then turned to medicine and psychiatry, and sought innovative ways to bridge the two fields.

Among several initiatives, she has developed an art museum-based approach to promote clinical excellence, and has published a detailed review of her experience: thoughtful, facilitated discussions prompted by art and intended to help medical trainees have a deeper appreciation for the human condition. As a certified facilitator of Visual Thinking  Strategies, she has used arts-based teaching methods with health professionals and trainees across the entire spectrum of their professional development.


She has also begun very popular fourth-year elective for Hopkins medical students using local art museums to explore what it means to be human, to be a physician and to live a good life. Several times during the pandemic, she offered one week online versions of this course.

In 2019, Chisolm was one of 12 inaugural fellows in an art museum-based health professions education fellowship offered by the Harvard Macy Institute & Cambridge Health Alliance, and is now on Macy's adjunct faculty.

Held at the museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Macy program explores ways to use the museum environment and art appreciation to teach observation and interpretation skills; team building; and to identify underlying assumptions, values and stigma that might inform interactions with patients.

These programs are meant "to help transform the way physicians think about themselves, humanity and their mission" - she says - "and help them flourish both personally and professionally".

Dr. Chisolm directs the Paul McHugh Program for Human Flourishing at Hopkins. Her latest book, “From Survive to Thrive: How to live your Best Life with Mental Illness,” (Johns Hopkins University Press) is a great resource for patients and families, and a 2022 Nautilus Award Winner in the psychological / mental & emotional well being category.

Her teaching and research also includes the psychiatric care of pregnant women; the causes and prevention of physician burn-out; and an examination of the role of social media in medical education and practice. Early on in her career, Chisolm spent about 10 years with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Addiction and Pregnancy, where she worked with drug-dependent pregnant women and published articles about mood disorders, substance use and treatment strategies in this population. 


Her efforts to understand and address burnout among students and physicians “grew out of my addiction work,” she says, “and seeing how even some really great clinicians can have a blind spot in their attitudes toward patients with addiction and other psychiatric illnesses.”

The clinical excellence promotion track Chisolm has pioneered at Hopkins rewards clinically excellent faculty for innovation in patient care and teaching, addressing a common misperception that careers in academia may be built only on basic science-based pathways. Part of this work included founding the CLOSLER forum - "closer to Osler" - an initiative of the Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence seeking to encourage healthcare professionals and trainees to reflect on giving exceptional care to every patient.


  • To introduce pre-health and medical students, residents and faculty to “Visual Thinking Strategies” and other art museum-based pedagogical methods as a means to enhance their clinical skills;

  • To learn to develop habits of careful observation, critical thinking, tolerance of ambiguity and empathy through an interactive experience and group discussion of works of art;

  • To cultivate an attitude of habitual reflection on the human condition as a means of improving the physician-patient encounter.

Mary Blazek, MD, MEHP

Director, Medical Humanities Path of Excellence

University of Michigan School of Medicine

will be assisting Dr Chisolm during the

museum sessions.

Rivera mural DIA DETAIL_edited.jpg


Diego Rivera Industry Murals

Detroit Institute of Arts


This program is open

to any Michigan 

undergraduate pre-health student, medical student, resident or

medical faculty member.



Detroit Institute of Arts

Friday, August 19, 2022

  • 5:30 PM  -  Dinner with Dr. Chisolm

  • 6:30 PM  - DIA program begins

  • 9:00 PM - Conclusion

Saturday, August 20, 2022

  • 9:00 AM - Brunch with Dr Chisolm

  • 10:00 AM - DIA program begins

  • 12 Noon - Conclusion

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