Acrylic paint on wood panel.
When I told people I was pursuing a career in medicine, the statistics of female physician suicide were mentioned. When I professed an interest in surgery, I was told to choose a specialty for lifestyle, because as a woman I would need a career that would allow me to raise my future children. All around me, I have been assaulted by doubt, as senior physicians whisper to students of my generation to turn away while we still can.
This painting represents how I see students among physician mentors, who seem to feel smothered, trapped, and grabbed at by hands of outside influencers: patients’ reviews, fellow colleagues’ exhaustion, society’s expectations, and administrative demands for shortened patient encounters. In the middle of this painting is the eye of a student, representing where I sit today. While we observe and try to learn, despite bearing the weight of burned-out professionals’ negativity, we are keenly seeking answers—to how to respond to crises, lower our rates of suicide, support our patients, and be home for dinner. This painting also conveys my hope for a future in which we can have it all and not fall into the quagmire of disappointment where so many of our mentors struggle. This painting comes from my personal art show exploring visual art as a means of promoting reflection about how to build resilience in future physicians.