Medical College of Wisconsin
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The Memory Art Project: medical students and older adults. WMJ 2010 Dec;109(6):311-6



Pubmed ID


Scopus ID

2-s2.0-78751480713   3 Citations


BACKGROUND: The humanities are increasingly recognized as an important component of medical student education. This study addresses whether early exposure to healthy older adults through the humanities may prepare medical students for positive relationships with aging patients. Few studies have presented a detailed example of a humanistic endeavor organized by medical students to facilitate student interactions with healthy older adults.

OBJECTIVE: To report the results of a unique art project organized to promote rapport between medical students and healthy older adults.

METHODS: Twelve first- and second-year students at the Medical College of Wisconsin were paired with 12 older adult residents at a local independent living facility. Participation was voluntary, and all participants were asked to complete 3 sessions over the course of 2 months. During the first session, partners met each other and formed a relationship. A professional art instructor provided a lesson and supervised practice in acrylic painting. In the second session, all student and older adult participants created a painting to represent their partner. The third session featured a reception to celebrate the artwork and new friendships.

RESULTS: Ten medical student/older adult pairs completed the project. Reactions were positive, and the project was perceived as beneficial to both students and older adults.

CONCLUSION: The Memory Art Project effectively promoted positive communication between medical students and an aging population that will need to interact meaningfully with medical professionals in the future.

Author List

Kodadek LM, Bettendorf BA, Uihlein JA, Derse AR


Arthur R. Derse MD, JD Director, Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Aged, 80 and over
Art Therapy
Education, Medical, Undergraduate
Homes for the Aged
Physician-Patient Relations
Students, Medical
Young Adult