Shawna Bellew, a first-year medical student at the UCF College of Medicine, is the national winner in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Humanities Initiative, which focuses on expressing empathy through art and poetry.
Thirty-three medical students from across the country submitted artistic works that were judged at the AMA’s Medical Student Section annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month. More than 700 students attended the meeting, which offered educational programs on a variety of topics, including advances in medical education, medicine and the media, and surviving and thriving in medical school.
Bellew’s winning work, entitled “The Standardized Patient,” is a still life painting of different parts of an artist’s mannequin tied together with rope. “With the theme of ‘Empathy,’ I wanted to portray that patients are more than the sum of their parts,” Bellew said. “We talk about that all the time in our medical school classes, that we need to be sure we are seeing people as people and not just as diseases and parts.”
Before entering medical school, Bellew graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2009 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Fine Arts minor. The combination of art and medicine is a natural one for her.
“Art can be a method of expressing feelings related to medicine and health in addition to being used as a therapeutic technique,” she said. “Art therapy helps patients cope and art is certainly used in reconstructive plastic surgery. Art is just another way of expressing your feelings.”