This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members. Do you have a poem, short story, creative nonfiction or visual art piece related to medicine that you’d like to share with the community? Send it to us here.
On what inspired this piece
I attended a week-long arts and humanities seminar at my medical school. The theme for that year was on “The Female Form.” This was my interpretation titled "The Mysterious Woman." When I was drawing this woman, several questions came to mind. Who is she? Where is she from? Where is she going? What is she conveying in her facial expression? All of these questions will have different answers based on who is viewing this piece of art. Based on our own experiences, we can come up with storylines for everything we see. For example, I am a young man who was born and raised in Nigeria. Seeing this image, I might instantly assume that the woman is of African descent. She is going to an important event and stopped on the way to have herself photographed. I assumed these things because that is what I experienced growing up in Nigeria. Now, an American might see this image and think differently. Therein lies the true beauty of art. Its true meaning is left on the creative imagination of whoever appreciates it.
On the creative arts and medicine
Being health care professionals, we have to understand that sometimes, each patient might be our "Mysterious Woman." We always have to appreciate the fact that they are emotional beings and not just a collection of anatomical systems seeking treatment. Just like this artwork sparks a curiosity with the questions above, our patients should spark curiosities within us. By knowing how they feel, we can modify our services accordingly to bring out the best possible outcome. We will never understand what someone is going through, but we can try by putting ourselves in their shoes.
I have always enjoyed art ever since my pre-medical days. This piece helped me re-evaluate the way I relate to patients by reminding me that the emotional component of patient care is just as important as the physical and clinical components.
Enoemem Okpokpo is a fourth-year medical student at Nova Southeastern University Kiran Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has enjoyed the arts since childhood. His interests are music and sketches. He is presently awaiting the residency NRMP match into the field of Internal Medicine. He plans to continue with his interests in arts throughout his medical career.