Art Smart & lifesavers



Tonight I attended the first of Juliana Engberg's lecture series 'Art Smart- 100 Works that matter'. I have been extremely excited about this for some time, posting the flyer on my desk. As Jason pointed out, it seems that ART SMART is centred in the temporal lobe.

I had spent my day in Emergency Medicine lectures, and revelled in the contrast between the fine art lecture delivered by the charismatic Ms Engberg and the absolutely practical afternoon's lectures on metabolic disorders of childhood and invasive ventilation strategies. This was one of my favourite parts of school and university, studying both sciences and humanities and feeling my brain zap open new connections between the two through sheer temporal proximity.

Tonight Juliana said, "You've got to have your elbows out if you're thinking about art," showing a series of gallery-goers contemplating paintings with their hands on their hips. This reminded me of doctor/comedian Rob Sitch's advice that it is very important to be making the right face when asked to read an MRI.

She went on to say that when people encounter a work of art that they don't understand, they say, "Wow!" This is actually them taking a big breath in so that they can begin to cope with it. Of course, earlier in the afternoon, I had been learning about alveolar recruitment manoeuvres for the ventilated patient: ie giving a forceful breath to a ventilated patient in order to 'open up their lungs'. Perhaps we could use really awe-inspiring art to improve their breathing instead?

The funny thing about my job is that occasionally I will actually, in some sort of immediate sense, save some one's life. And that's pretty cool. And of course I think: Aha!! I figured out the diagnosis and gave the correct treatment and ta-da!! I saved them!! But it's not like I can go up to my newly-resurrected patient and say, "YOU'RE ALIVE!!! YOU'RE ALIVE!" There's no time for self-congratulation or even a celebratory cup of tea. It's on to the next patient, "Well it started in my shoulder but now it seems to have moved to my stomach.."

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