Integrating the Arts into Medicine

We all are well aware that going into the medical field is not a cake-walk. The transition from being a pre-med, to a medical student, and residency is fairly tough. Even though the process sounds tedious and stressful, there are ways people have hacked the system by enjoying the journey, rather than just quickly trying to get it over with. These people, that enjoy the ride, indulge in creativity and expand their perceptions to formulate new ideas and possibilities. There would be no innovation or progress in the medical field if it weren’t for people who wondered about why they were doing what they were doing and how they could have done it different to make it more efficient. Luckily, there are still so many doctors who haven’t lost touch with their child-like state of wonder and are inclined in the arts, which is, essentially, a median for creativity.

Timeline of Major Breakthroughs in Medicine:

800 – Indian doctors were grafting skin from one part of the body to another

1600– Italian surgeon reconstructed ears and noses out of pieces of human skin

1954– first successful kidney transplant

1950s-1960s– studies conducted on how body rejects or tolerates foreign tissue , era of widespread organ transplantation began

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The Human Heart from the original Gray’s Anatomy 

On the Art of Medicine podcast, a doctor from Mount Sinai School of Medicine was interviewed about how the arts have a strong correlation with anatomy. The doctor described her passion for art as a high school student but also for the sciences. This is a conflicting decision that many students in high school encounter because there are academically inclined kids who think they could excel in the sciences, but also want to pursue the arts. This lady shared how she got over the conflict by double majoring at Cornell, and taking art courses along with her prerequisites at the same time. However, she still did not feel connected to her purpose yet. Later on though, she pursued a project in which she got to illustrate anatomical drawings of fish and different animals so she could study how dissections would be done. Although this is an example of veterinary medicine, it ties into how the arts can be incorporated into anatomy in general. In fact, studying drawings of animals could even help develop models for human treatments. She also mentioned how someone who’s pursuing the arts alone may be constrained by finances whereas someone who’s strictly focusing on completing the medical steps may be restricted in terms of creativity. That’s how she came to a consensus of having the arts inculcated into anatomy, which ties into medicine directly. That’s why the Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray is actually helpful for medical students. Students can look at the visual representations and make different connections about structures of the human body.

The universal concept of the arts in medicine lies in the idea that one can look at a study, project or assignment with a fresh perspective, and begin to discover new possibilities. That is why medical schools like Mount Sinai value this concept so much and represent it with some of the most renowned physicians in the world.

So, the next time you contemplate the whole medical school process, think about it as a journey to experience with an open mind. That way, medicine will rather be a very interesting ride!

Check out Mount Sinai School of Medicine: http://icahn.mssm.edu/

Art of Medicine Podcast (also available on iTunes for free: http://www.theartofmedicinepodcast.com/podcast-archive/ 

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New Year, New Perspective

It’s a brand new year again, and all of a sudden, everyone is reflecting on what resolutions they need to make, in order to change themselves for the better this year. With this new year, I hope to bring new perspectives into the picture so life isn’t just filled with the same boring information again. It needs to rather be complete with creative energy, or a sense of purpose and direction. TheMedAspirations is meant for young people who aspire to become a great physician later on, but there’s more to the path of going to medical school than just studying the coursework and taking the MCAT. After all, medical schools are not just interested in how much someone has done to improve their application, but instead how they have learned from their failures and experiences. Medical schools need students who not only excel in academia, but also in other aspects of human life. In this new year, we can bring together new perspectives and step out of our comfort zone to discover new, innovative ideas. So, I’ve compiled a list of things that would be nice to implement in 2015.

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1) Watch a TED Talk at least once a week.

The reason I say this is because, TED is all about ideas worth spreading, and I believe it’s important to keep yourself constantly stimulated with new information and data because neurogenesis will occur more effectively and cognition will naturally increase. If we remain confined to our comfort zones, our brains have already mapped the next step. Our life is no longer spontaneous or filled with wonder, and we can no longer expand our perceptual vastness. The result is hedonic adaptation, which we want to avoid here.

2) Take Walks Outside, they are NOT a waste of time.

If you’ve ever experienced the “mind-fog” or when you can’t think clearly because you feel so burdened by all the things going on around you, take a walk outside. A recent study conducted by Stanford shows that creative thinking actually improves by walking or pacing outside. Catch some fresh air, and rejuvenate yourself!

3) Take 20 minutes out of each day to invest in a new, creative project.

It can be anywhere from drawing, painting, playing an instrument, writing lyrics to building a robot or machine using scrap material. Regardless of what your talent is, invest time and energy in it every day, and the outcome will be delectable. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, if people like Mark Zuckerberg or Arinanna Huffington can do it, you definitely can.

4) Spend time with your loved ones each day.

This one is kind of common sense, because evolution has proved that human beings have a stronger mental health when they are with people they love. Studies have shown that releasing oxytocin, a.k.a. the love hormone could potentially ward off brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. Surround yourself with the people you love and those who imbue you. It’s as simple as that.

5) Remove FOMO: Fear of missing out.

I’ve seen passionate people, who compromise their passion to join another group that they think is superior to what they are a part of. However, like Joseph Campbell says, “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid. Doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” Human beings hold themselves back from their true potential by joining others groups because of the “FOMO.” Like the brilliant philosopher Rumi says, “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

These are just some strong ideas I had this New Year. Perhaps this was more philosophical than intended, but I’ve learnt from the successful people who have actually made it through life thriving.

Happy New Year!

Link to article in E-Newspaper Issue (Page 13): http://issuu.com/indoamericannews/docs/e-newspaper01092015