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Drawing from Medicine

In medical school, we study every nook and cranny in the human body- what it looks like, how it works, and what happens when things go wrong. Many days, studying resorts to stone cold memorization- which cranial nerves innervate the tongue? What cardiac anomalies comprise the Tetralogy of Fallot?  In seeking a way to understand and integrate the massive volume of material we are expected to master, I turn to my colored pencils. I draw anything and everything in order to make sense of it, whether that be a detailed sketch of gastrointestinal blood supply or a color-coordinated list of pituitary hormones. Drawing allows me to quiet my mind and focus entirely on the material at hand. The world is still and hours pass as my mind transfers thought down my arm through my hand into my pencil. Suddenly, material becomes more retainable and studying becomes less grueling. It is as if the creative process monopolizes all of my brain-power.  Instead of glazing over a textbook paragraph then realizing I can’t recall one word of what I just read, I am actively learning medicine. My notes often end up looking like colorful, crowded chaos. But with time, I recall my creation in my mind. I learn where on the page the symptoms were written and how the nerve was drawn, but most importantly, I try to learn why they were drawn that way. The process of creating teaches more than the final product does. Drawing is not an art of perfection; it is an art of process. It’s not about creating the perfect image. The beauty of drawing is in the act of creating.

 

See more of Olivia’s artwork at her website.

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