Sonam Maghera (MD2017)
Featured in Arts in Medicine Art Show, 2017
Sonam Maghera (MD2017)
To those that suffer from anxiety, memories are a curse and become frozen in the mind. Even the most pleasant memories can shatter over time to one’s own icy demeanor; every recollection shattering it further until the cracks are so deep you can’t see the end.
The mind can be a maze with all of the memories that we hold. Some of us become trapped in these memories, repeating our mistakes again and again, reliving the agony of past experiences. Depression takes out the exit to our maze, and leaves it feeling cold and deserted.
Featured in Arts in Medicine Art Show, 2017
Alyena Alice Marie Fredette (MD2020)
Forsaken within, I bury the memory of a loved one in the cocoon of my soul, that is my heart. Abandoned in the currents of the universe I hide, withdrawing from all. Burned with the flame of love beyond control powerless to protect myself. Dew drops falling from my eyes into the grave of agony.
He said: “Perhaps my time seemed all too brief; don’t lengthen it now with undo grief. Lift your heart and share with me. God wanted me now, God set me free.”
Featured in Arts in Medicine Art Show, 2017
Tamara Pokrupa-Nahanni (MD2017)
In late April, we cross the muddy roads to Weenebayko Hospital, Moose Factory. ‘We’ are the medical students who travel by airplane to this remote First Nation reserve. This acrylic painting is a reflection of the two types of health care provided to the community: the Dreamcatcher in the sky and the hospital in the background as symbols of Indigenous and Western medicine respectively. As Canada’s northern communities experience barriers to health distribution, the promise of complementing Western medicine and local indigenous healing methods could not only save lives but also harmonize these two valuable practices.
Featured in Arts in Medicine Art Show, 2017
Lorenzo Madrazo (MD2019)
Musicians tune and temper their artistry through the combination of a mind knowledgeable in their craft and a heart filled with passion for what they do. Similarly, medicine is best tempered when physicians practice with both a sharp mind and a compassionate heart.
Featured in Arts in Medicine Art Show, 2017
Jason Zelt, Conor Barker, Yuan Yi (Ryan) Dong, Rana Hassan, Mariya Kuk, Lorenzo Madrazo, Abhilasha Patel, Tharshika Thanagarasa (MD2019)
Jon Reed. Lost Generation (2007). YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA
HDSounDI. Most Emotional Music: ‘And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness’ by Ólafur Arnalds. (2016).Youtube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWhJi2roJTw
Casazza, K. et al. Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity. N. Engl. J. Med. 368, 446–454 (2013).
Chaput, J.-P., Ferraro, Z. M., Prud’homme, D. & Sharma, A. M. Widespread misconceptions about obesity. Can. Fam. Physician 60, 973–975 (2014).
Sarah Cino & Alex Bahadur (MD2020)
They say that I’m unforgiving. Greedy. Relentless. I’ll admit that I may appear this way when you don’t really know me, but I’ll grow with each and every one of you.
You are some of my many children that are not my own but are treated as such, whether I am proud of you or not. We learn together. And I promise that I treat you all the same; I know that it isn't always obvious, but your perception of me is merely a reflection of how I am treated by you.
(I can feel Him)
He squeezes like a vice
-He is my vice.
try as I might He
cannot be controlled.
try as we might He
cannot be controlled.
He eludes us all.
Like the tide He
comes and goes
and we may
rise and ride or
float and survive
or drown and
You might have noticed that I have a funny way with patterns. I like repetition; it gives some order to my life, and I know it can for yours, too, though this repetition can have a way of distorting my influence. At this point, I should express that I don’t believe I am the sun that your Earth revolves around –though I know it can be easy to think of me in this way. You constantly have me in your schedules. Your agendas. Your plans. I’m there, whether you want me to be or not.
Every year, I become smaller and smaller to you. Yet, somehow, I become more and more important. You’ve questioned my existence, but you never fail to rely on me, even when I can’t tell you the future, and even when your present is eclipsed by the past.
But there are moments where you forget I exist, even if just for a slice of your life. And I am most happy in these moments. Less work for me, yes, but it also means that your life is the sun.
Every month, I walk home with the girl in the 30-year-old footsteps of her parents. I hold the hand of the 85-year old army veteran, walking each day to keep his health, even though he knows that I am slowly taking it. In the hospitals, I pause with the mourners and the elated alike.
our calls to pass
Every day, you realize: we always move forward together –never back. We might not move in a straight line, but we do move. We’re always in orbit.
We are not masters of Him,
for we are not masters of ourselves.
I tell you all this, yet I know that you’ll never really know who I am. But I’ll be there until your sun burns out.
Kevin Dueck, McMaster University
“After the feeding tube is placed and some training in using it you should be able to head home.”
I felt confident reassuring my patient and his wife about the plan the team had discussed. I saw his eyes beneath his baseball cap and with a nod he indicated understanding. His wife appeared content with the plan as well. The procedure was booked.
He had slowly lost weight and after visiting this family physician a number of times he eventually found his way to our ward. This was the first cachectic patient I had cared for during clerkship, at first I had trouble believing he could still walk. He had lost so much weight I couldn’t conduct a proper physical exam, his ribs so prominent there wasn’t a flat surface to rest my stethoscope to listen to his heart or lungs. He looked far older than his age, his cheek bones grimly protruding. We had done all the blood work, sent referrals and done a CT scan as well. No cause had come to light. It was felt providing nutrition was the priority and getting him home to avoid risks associated with hospitalization would be best.
The next morning while rounding I entered his room to find his wife in bed holding him. I tried my best to be discrete and addressed their concerns. I again expressed regret that we didn’t have and answer for his weight loss. She stayed with him all day in bed and was there again after the placement of the feeding tube. I was heartened by this, seeing their companionship and her comforting him during this difficult time.
The next day I was reviewing his chart and there was a new entry from a social worker about a meeting with the patient’s wife. As I read it I learned of her struggles to care for him at home during his deterioration along with her own health issues. The note also mentioned quoting the patients how disturbed she had been at a team member talking of the possibility of her husband's return home. My heart sank. My reassurance, rather than calming had induced distress. I hadn’t realized how poorly she was coping and the added stress his feeding tube would cause. We had ignored the needs of his caretaker in development of the plan, failing to appreciate her needs. The note ended with discussion of placement of her husband in a care home.
I rounded each morning hoping to see her and apologize. I checked multiple times a day to see if she was visiting. I never saw her again. It dawned on me that sharing his bed wasn't an act of compassion, but an extended goodbye.
Tanzila Basrin (MD2017)
Taken at the newborn ICU at the general hospital, this is a picture of an extremely preterm baby in the incubator, receiving mechanical ventilation. At the moment the picture was taken, the baby extended her hand, appearing to reach out, which brought two words to mind: hope and resilience.
Andrea Bakker, MD Class of 2017
It was a regular afternoon after class. I didn’t feel like studying just yet so I wandered from room to room looking for an interest group talk to attend. I walked by a talk about hematology – arguably a specialty that I am considering - but the talk had one major flaw – no free lunch. Alas, I continued until I smelled the sweet smell of pizza. I looked into the room only to read a PowerPoint slide entitled “Pathology Interest Group”. I cringed a little and preceded to sell my time for free pizza – shameful I know but it happened. I expected to be bored for an hour, however this was good pizza so I decided to stick it out. The fact is pathology has a bad rep among medical students. Pathologists are caricaturized as doctors that hate people and lack social skills; but this talk was about to prove me wrong.
As I sat, I listened to two residents talk about their love for the specialty. I was even more surprised to hear from a resident who switched from family medicine into pathology. In the medical world this is like moving from Earth to Mars. Nonetheless, these doctors loved so many unique aspects that pathology has to offer: reasonable hours, a lack of challenging (and sometimes frustrating) patient interactions, a wide scope of practice and the ability to make diagnoses. And pathologists were not antisocial, the resident explained, they just didn’t crave the type of interactions one has with patients; instead, they preferred interacting with their colleagues.
This stuff sounded pretty good or maybe I was in a stupor from the food, so I decided to try it out with an elective with Dr. Grynpsan at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. For those of you who know Dr. Grynspan, his enthusiasm is infectious; he responded to my email in about 7 minutes.
And so the elective began, first with a brief session discussing neuroblastoma. In class, it can be difficult to comprehend pathology – it tends to look like a whole bunch of pink and purple, however Dr. Grynspan was excellent at pointing out the key features to look for. At the end of the day, once you know what to look for, pathology makes a lot of sense. You are basically looking at the connection between structure and function as is unfolds right before your eyes; for example, cancer cells are overactive, therefore their nuclei are darker.
At the next session, I attended general surgery rounds. These rounds involve surgeons, pathologists, residents and more who review interesting cases from the past few weeks. I loved seeing how pathology interacted with other aspects of medicine. Seeing a case all the way from symptoms, to diagnosis, to treatment, is fascinating and connecting the pathology to the clinical presentation is something that we are not always exposed to in the lecture hall.
At another session, I attended the autopsy of a fetus that had suffered intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD). I have always wanted to attend an autopsy because medical students don’t have many opportunities to do so in medical school. I was a bit concerned as to how I would react to such a young patient, however the experience was very informative. First, we discussed the case by reviewing the charts of the mother and fetus. This brings me to another benefit of pathology – there is always a connection to the clinical presentation. For example, we looked for factors that might have contributed to fetal demise, such as gestational diabetes, slowed growth rate and the presence or absence of screening tests. All of this helped us form hypotheses before starting the autopsy.
The autopsy itself was captivating. We discussed the ways bodies decompose, which allows one to theorize about when death occurred. We started with an external exam looking for fetal deformities and other obvious signs, then we moved on to the internal exam. This was a great opportunity to practice anatomy because one was able to see how tissue layers interact in real life. It was also interesting because we could look for changes that would suggest a certain etiology of the IUFD.
I proceeded to go to several different rounds and what struck me was the huge scope of knowledge that Dr. Grynspan possessed; whether it was urology, general surgery, pediatrics, radiology or oncology, he had a complete understanding of the diseases affecting that population and could talk in detail with his colleagues about the cases. I noticed this phenomenon in class as well – pathologists have a thorough understanding of almost every system in the body. In this sense, I think that completing a pathology elective is a fantastic idea. Learning pathological concepts on real specimens and working with a pathologist to understand the basics makes pathology more interesting and more intuitive. In addition, pathologists have connections to almost any specialty in the hospital, therefore they serve as a great resource to observe other areas for example, Dr. Grynspan suggested that I observe a neurosurgery and then follow the biopsy specimen through to pathology – how cool is that! Finally, pathologists posses a wide scope of knowledge, and are therefore excellent people to chat with to help integrate knowledge learned in various areas. Forget the whole “that’s beyond my scope of practice” – pathologists seem to know it all!
And so in the end, on that seemingly regular Wednesday in February I got much more than I expected from the Pathology Interest Group – not to mention some really good pizza.
Addendum: I wrote this piece in my second year of medical school. I am now coming to an end of my third year and am planning to apply to Anatomical Pathology. Who would have thought that such a coincidence would lead me to my future career? It just goes to show that there is so much out there to discover, so don’t be afraid to follow your gut – or your nose.
Maija Robinson, MD 2017
Buzzword #1: "Person"
Person describes the physician whom should be sure to take time for themselves, maintain their health, their relationships and generally master other things that are, by many, expected to suffer in a life in medicine.
Buzzword #2: "Work-Life Balance"
The seemingly intangible equilibrium where the individual has their sh*t together in every aspect and whom, therefore, is both a source of inspiration and frustration to those around.
And when you picture this all in your mind, you see a scale with big WordART style letters shouting "LIFE!" on one side, and "WORK!" on the other, and magically they are at the very same level. Must be because they are both four-letter words.
More accurately I think we should use the term work-life see-saw, or work-life teeter-totter. Symantics, perhaps, and the goal is even the same. But have you ever tried to balance one of those with your friends in the playground? Not so easy. Constantly falling one side to the other, and just when you think you've got it, someone throws a soccer ball at you, and your arms and legs flail in attempt to regain balance, or at the very least, not fall. And even as a child, the concept of a fine balance is so craved, yet it continually evades you.
But maybe our thinking is off. Maybe our approach needs to change. Maybe the attempt should be more child-like, where you embrace the rises and the falls because you love the fun, and the challenge of getting back to center. Maybe we need to take all our expectations of balance and instead, turn them into embracing the change.
Maybe, sometimes, it's all we can do to just hold on tight.
Johnathan Lincoln Lau, MD 2019
Snapshots of Jamaica, the land of wood and water. Connecting with nature is to disconnect from our society, and being unplugged at times is fundamental for balance. Ignoring all the medicines, design, and utilities we derive directly from nature, just being in nature itself is another type of medicine - one we should definitely preserve in this increasingly technological world.
Oh, and just one of my favourite dishes of all time - Hellshire escovitch fried parrot fish with festival (fried sweet dough) and bammy (fried cassava cake). Can't give you some snaps of Jamaica without that. Mi will nyam Hellshire food til mi belly burst, zeen?
Kayla Simms, Founder of H.E.A.L.
We live not by compartmentalization, but by collaboration. We are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
When I think of transforming training for modern care, I imagine an institution epitomized not by its dissemination of exclusive knowledge, but a reconstruction of the patient-physician dynamic - to unify, not divide. Compartmentalization is the bread-and-butter of medical knowledge. Patients, divided into sub-types. The body, separated by systems. The caregiver, detached from the care. In rediscovering medical training, we must learn again what we have always known - that life does not exist in a vacuum, and the body does not divide.
The culminating interplay depicted between the lungs and the trees reminds us to see similarities where we have been told there are differences. The air we breathe, merely a gift from Mother nature. The body's lungs, merely a mimic of Earth's perfection. We must remember this symbiosis when treating our patients. Love and respect triumph, for only an arbitrary line divides us at the bedside.
Amina Allalou, MD 2019
Painting for me is a deeply personal and spiritual exercise. This work was inspired by a similar painting of a heart I saw, which prompted me to explore my inner intentions behind each of my actions. I recalled a verse from my scripture, stating that when we stand before God our only accepted offering is 'qalbun saleem' - a sound, peaceful heart.
This painting is an expression of my striving to cultivate such a heart.
Julie El-Haddad, MD 2018
Andrea Zumrova & Agata Dzwonek, Arts in Medicine Co-Executives (2014-15)
"The art of medicine is about finding the beauty in your medical experiences"
"Art helps you think empathetically."
"Art is intuitive."
"Art and medicine exploit each other."
Arts in Medicine Paint Night, 2015
Photos taken by H.E.A.L. founder, Kayla Simms
Johnathan Lincoln Lau, MD 2019
Re:turn is my 2nd poem composed of haikus. This poem is an aggregate of haikus I've written after separate experiences in Canada and Jamaica. I love haikus as a medium of expression as it challenges me to write as a minimalist, and encourages the use of vivid imagery. Interpret it as you will, I'd love to hear about them!
For me, it deals with self-doubt that comes along with this increasingly competitive world we live in. It's a realization that our daily strife is a microcosm of thought patterns that develop in response to our surroundings. I hope, by reading the poem you can appreciate different microcosms of thought patterns. Having spent so much time in Toronto working on my career, nearing burnout, I decided to visit Jamaica and my old friends again. It was like taking sunglasses off at the beach - every time I'm awed at how vividly beautiful this planet is.
I think we can all ride the rollercoaster of thoughts and forget we're on it. In a meditative sense, we have to realize we might be behaving or thinking in a way we may not like because of our physical, mental, and spiritual environments. If you don't like it, change it. I think that's crucial in moving forward with our careers in medicine.
Note to future self: "John, jus' easy yuself and gwaan do yuh ting yute. You know seh yaad and all you brejjin and fam dem a guh tek care a you. Nuh watch no face; focus 'pon yuself, zeen?"
Jitters with the dawn;
Eyes bright open -- hopeful light
Swallowed by grey clouds.
Glancing with no time to stop.
Merely blood flowing.
Why even bother?
Transience governs this life,
Petals bud yet shed.
Hollow ideas warranting
On desolate winds.
Hummingbird soars through
Undulating limestone skies.
Perched ‘pon ackee tree.
Fiery lines appear;
Flickering strokes on blackness.
On the roof of hope,
You all by my side,
Concrete hard on our backs--
Touched by heaven's arms.
Fated dancing with gale winds,
In tune with sun beams.
Swaying together carefree;
To live life, nuh true?
Breathing in guava vapours,
Exhaling burn out.
Lovers return to clasp hands.
Chelsea Soares, MD 2018
The history of medicine is full of wonder, struggle, and some crazy ideas. When I look back and rediscover what the profession used to be like I think not only of the trials and tribulations that came with discovering new treatments and diseases but of what it meant to dress professionally. The image of the bubonic plague doctor is a classic example. An unrecognizable doctor came to your door wearing a robe, mask full of herbs, hat, gloves and holding a stick. This outfit had a purpose and that was to prevent the doctor from acquiring the disease (and quiet possibly to scare the disease right out of you). Fast-forward to the 1900’s where doctors are now wearing all white outfits and head mirrors. A very plain look, but iconic with the head mirror designed for examining the patients nose and throat. Both of these outfits were designed for a purpose, and I think it is time to rediscover the purpose of how doctors dress today.
What does it look like to dress like a doctor in 2016? Most people would say that dressing professionally means wearing a pair of black dress pants, long sleeve dress shirt that’s tucked in, with a nice belt and pair of dress shoes. If you are in an extra classy field of medicine it may even include a tie and white coat. Or maybe if you are in a more relaxed specialty dressing professionally may include khakis and a nice shirt. Now these outfits aren’t bad, they are just…boring. And hospitals themselves are…boring. Adult hospitals especially lack creativity. Everything in the hospital is a safe and neutral colour. Which in turn is how we also chose to dress, safe and neutral. I think it is time to redefine what it means to look like a professional in the healthcare field.
Hospitals have so little artwork and creativity in them already, so why not fix that and become the source of it? I believe that doctors should wear brighter colours and fun designs that can bring smiles to their patient’s faces. I created both my pieces with the idea of being a walking piece of artwork using already known artists like van Gogh and Monet in my designs. These outfits were created in hopes of bringing a little happiness into someone’s day. Maybe a patient of yours is an art lover and can identify the paintings, or maybe they don’t and ask you about your outfit, regardless of the circumstance the outfit is a conversation starter used to build rapport with a patient. We have so many different tools in medicine so why not use what we wear as a tool to bring a smile to someone’s face and brightens someone’s day?
Zuzana Novak, MD 2017
Summer discovery in beautiful Italy. Picturesque Venice, Florence, and Cinque Terre embrace both body and spirit. One is blessed to visit such places where passion, culture and knowledge can only flourish. The mind becomes enchanted and inspired to hope and dream of bigger things.
Tanzila Basrin, MD 2017
I took this picture during an international elective in Dhaka, Bangladesh, after observing a c-section delivery for the first time. Excited to capture this moment, I took a picture of the baby as the pediatrician welcomed her with a series of affectionate rubs and examinations. Despite my initial discomfort, I discovered the beauty of childbirth.
But there are many angles to a story – the photographer and those in the picture see very different versions of a similar story, with perspective being our differentiator. In medicine, a discovery made by a physician may be different from what is being perceived by a patient. And when the patient is one who has just been brought into this world, the discoveries are endless. As she took her first breaths, she discovered the ability to breathe in fresh air and even attempt a loud cry. She experienced the sensation of light in her eyes and the touch of numerous caregivers surrounding her - she felt and heard those around her from a new vantage point. She was slowly discovering this unknown world, so strange and foreign. But just as all of this overwhelmed her, she discovered, once again, the comforting embrace of her mother. And that discovery made all the difference; it was enough to calm her down as though all was good again, and nothing changed at all.
Sarah Buttle, MD 2018
I was inspired to paint this piece from a photograph taken by NASA’s Chandra Observatory of the B1509 nebula in 2009, called the “Hand of God”. It incorporates elements of an x-ray, one of the motifs I most commonly utilize in my paintings. The title is borrowed from a line written by one of my favourite poets, Tyler Knott Gregson. The element of discovery is reflected by the prevailing idea of “the unknown” perpetuated by outer space – so much of what we do in medicine is our best interpretation of the unknown.