Alexa Miller is an artist-turned-medical-educator known for her study of the value of observation in the diagnostic process, and for co-creating an arts-based course on diagnosis at Harvard Medical School whose 2008 study has become a touchstone in the field of medical humanities. Since then, she founded Arts Practica, a consultancy dedicated to quality improvement in health care through arts education, and has consulted on a range of programs in the medical humanities as well as developed her own course on medical uncertainty.
Miller’s DotMD talk felt like a capstone on her almost twenty years of medical humanities practice, research, and collaboration with great physicians across sites. She asks, What does it mean to be smart in healthcare, a knowledge economy where “knowledge is king”? Her talk identified approach to uncertainty to be what she believes is what increases a physician’s ability to be a part of the creation, rather than the destruction, of health in the clinic. Her talk broke down key aspects of expert approach to uncertainty and what having faith really means, and further included a short but memorable interactive exercise in which the auditorium of 500 looked closely at this work of art, and were stunned by how much we might have missed had we not taken a pause to be in uncertainty together.