4-minute read

Brushing through burnout

Medical students express artistic flair as a valuable stress release.
Allison Cheng, a dental student, poses playfully with her painting "View of Mt. Fuji" at the 2024 Health Sciences Art Show held March 6, 2024 in Meiling Hall.

In her first year as a medical student, Dheevena Bachu has discovered the accuracy of the age-old expression, “drinking from a firehose.” One thing that’s helped her cut through the stress? Photography.

“Photography fully drives my focus into the lens and I forget the outside world,” Bachu says. “Practicing medicine has always been a goal but my passion for photography has just blown up lately.”

Recently, Bachu discovered an audience with which to share her artistic side through Ohio State’s Humanism and the Arts in Medicine program. In fact, her photograph “Nature’s Beckoning” won a blue ribbon at the College of Medicine’s Health Sciences Art Show, in which students, residents and faculty show off their creativity through a variety of artistic mediums.

This year’s art show saw its most submissions ever, and select pieces such as Bachu’s will be displayed at the James Art Gallery from March 21 through April 18. The Health Sciences Art Show is one of many events through the Humanism and the Arts in Medicine program, designed to help Ohio State’s medical community reduce stress and ease mental health issues through artistic expressions.

In their own words, here's what some of the medical student artists and program leaders had to say.

Natalie Johnson posing next to her art piece for a photo
Student artist Natalie Johnson poses with her painting " The Fire That Fills My Lungs."
Medical school is stressful and it can seem like I never have time for painting. But when I do make time for it I study better, I’m more refreshed, energized, so it’s important I do that or else there’s burnout. Painting, art, it’s so rewarding.
Natalie Johnson
First-year medical student
Two women in nursing scrubs bending over to examine framed art
(Left to Right) Lisa Sliva and colleague Lori Wintersteller admire the art work on display.
When you ask most people who come to a hospital, they might just see you as a doctor and expect you to know medicine, but as medical students and physicians we’re also humans. It’s important for us to express ourselves. It’s a great way to connect with each other and go back to what we love. We are passionate about medicine but we’re well-rounded individuals.
Nooruddin Pracha
Second-year medical student who submitted “An Evening in Asakusa, Tokyo.”
Carol Bradford, MD smiling while she talks, standing in front of colorful art
Dean Carol Bradford spoke at the reception.
Medicine and the arts is so impactful, it helps us process our sense of self, our sense of humanism and how we interact with both joy and tragedy.
Carol Bradford, MD
Dean of Ohio State’s College of Medicine
Sheryl Pfeil, MD speaking to a smiling Carol Bradford, MD
Dean Carol Bradford (left) talks with Sheryl Pfeil.
Practicing medicine is hard work — so is learning how to practice medicine. There are high rates of burnout and that starts in the students. A lot of students find having an ability to express their journey, their emotions, fills their well and brings them joy in the midst of a really hard journey. It’s renewing, it adds to their own resilience.
Sheryl Pfeil, MD
Director of Humanism and the Arts in Medicine
Mixed media paper and paint on a paddle
Student Carson Rogge used a pickle ball paddle to create a piece called "Going Outside."
Art is as an escape. I need some form of expression that’s different than what I do in school. And I view this as a form of community building and connection. I often make art with friends and when we do that, we’re connecting with each other as humans, as people.
Carson Rogge
Third-year medical student
Michelle Huynh smiling with a bouquet of flowers in front of her artwork getting her photo taken
Student Michelle Huynh poses with her painting "Tranquil."
Painting is something I look forward to, it’s a good break, it takes my mind off things. And the integration of art here is one of the reasons I chose to come to this medical school. It pushes me to make time for my art and that’s a very good thing.
Michelle Huynh
First-year medical student