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Thinking outside the box for health and healthcare

More than 400 King’s students took part in creative learning sessions to enhance their clinical skills and their approach to patient care. 



More than 400 King’s students from the GKT School of Medical Education within the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine took part in Thinking Outside the Box, joining creative learning sessions to enhance their clinical skills and their approach to patient care.  

The sessions took place during the extended GP practice placement that forms part of their course. Creative breakout sessions featuring ceramics, photography, graphic art, poetry and art history were hosted by professional artists alongside clinical educators and student tutors.  

The aim was to help them develop as well-rounded doctors with skills and experience in areas such as critical thinking, managing uncertainty, responding to pain and suffering and leading change. 

Small groups of students were placed in each practice alongside a GP tutor. Group leads attended a workshop on arts-based healthcare interventions and the ways that arts and humanities intersect with health. Artist-tutors were also supported by a clinical educator and senior medical student with expertise in the humanities to ensure the sessions had clinical as well as artistic relevance. 

Student groups devised a range of projects exploring the complexities they might face as doctors including advocacy for vulnerable patients, homelessness and addiction. Inspired by the workshops, the students communicated these complexities through collaborative poetry, photography, sculpture and film.  

One team used first-person accounts to compose haikus reflecting patient experiences at Rushey Green Group Practice in south-east London. In a blog for Care Opinion the students said, ‘we have found that one of the most valuable lessons has in fact been acknowledging the diversity of people’s experiences.’ 


Student feedback


This task drew me back into the crux of medicine. Overall, our project raised awareness of not only the inspiring resilience and creativity of patients, but also the complex feelings patients can have.

I now understand the true positive impact the clinical humanities have on engaging patients, prompting self management and providing patient-centeredness care. It is important to have good leadership, critical thinking and creative skills as a junior doctor to be prepared for any unfamiliar situation I may face.

The time spent discussing how best to engage with patients and reflecting on their responses has furthered my belief that medicine as a discipline goes beyond the complexity of the systems of the body. People are much more than their illnesses; health does not occur in isolation. Socioeconomic status, level of education, and perception of one’s place in society contribute significantly to a person’s health and well-being.


Project team

Academic lead

Kathleen Leedham-Green, King’s Undergraduate Medical Education in the Community


Cara Holland (graphic visualisation), Angela Maddock (ceramics and textiles), Emma Barnard (photo collage), Amanda Clayton (textiles), Wendy James (poetry), and Kate Dunton (art history) 

Image :  Diba Behzad-Nouri and one of her longitudinal patients “Mrs Platt: you truly are the beating heart of Lambeth”. 
Photography by her clinical partner, Marcus Choo. Consented according to GMC guidelines on photography for secondary purposes. 

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