Tag: mini medical school

Mini Medical School Part II


Mini Medical School is officially over and it was a great experience for me. If you missed the first part of this post, you can read it here. Today I’m going to talk about the last two sessions.

The topic for the third week’s lecture was “The Human Form Through the History of Art,” presented by Hollins University Associate Professor Jennifer Anderson. We mostly looked at different portrayals of the body through the history of art. Jennifer also talked about artists’ consistent interest with the body and depicting it realistically. Beauty was a big part of the talk, and we were reminded to keep in mind that people’s perception of beauty was different hundreds of years ago and it also varies from culture to culture.

The interactive half of the third session for my group was a talk with a practitioner from Virginia Prosthetics. This session surprised me. I have to admit that I was probably the least interested in this session, but I came out of it feeling grateful. As a diabetic, I’ve often thought about neuropathy and the risk of amputation, but for some reason I never thought about the possibility of having a prosthetic leg. The reason I felt grateful for this session is because I learned about the different options and the new technology in prosthetics and it was relieving in a way. Maybe because it seems a lot better than being stuck in a wheelchair without a leg. During the session, I waited for the practitioner to mention diabetes, and eventually he did, saying that most of their patients are diabetics who had a foot injury that wasn’t taken care of. At the end of the session, I asked him what the average age of his diabetic patients is and he said late 50s to 70. That’s not very old.

prosthetics sketch
A few small sketches of prosthetic leg sockets

Last night was the fourth and last session. The lecture topic was “Body of Evidence: What Happens When Things Go Awry?” and it was presented by VTC’s Associate Professor of Surgery Carol Gilbert. Basically, we learned about a bunch of things that can go wrong with the body. It was a kind of morbid way to end the series. One thing I learned is that giving birth to a healthy baby really is a miracle. Staying relatively healthy through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood is also a miracle for sure.

For the second half of the night, I learned about the school’s use of standardized patients and moulage. Standardized patients are basically regular people who are trained to portray a sick patient so that the medical students have someone to practice on and receive feedback from.

Moulage is defined as the art of creating mock injuries. It’s actually a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it. Here is my injured hand that one of the SD’s did for me:


How convenient that yesterday was April Fools Day, right??

At the end of the night there was a short reception and we also received certificates of completion. Overall, I was very satisfied with the whole event and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in art and/or medicine. The staff said the plan is to make the program an ongoing thing. I will post information on that whenever I get it. Also, some of the sketches and artwork that participants created during this event will be displayed in The Art of Science Exhibition, which I mentioned on my news page. The opening reception is Thursday April 17th from 5:30-7:30pm. Thanks for reading!


Mini Medical School Part I

Credit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute

Something that I’ve been really excited about since graduating is the diverse amount of art-related opportunities that I’ve been encountering in my hometown of Roanoke. I’ve heard and read that Roanoke has been flourishing in this area recently, although sometimes it takes some digging to learn about the various things that are going on. Anyway, I’m currently participating in a pilot series in Roanoke called Mini Medical School: Anatomy for Artists and Other Curous Sorts, which was created and organized by some of the staff at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. This is the same place that hosted the Fall 2013 art exhibition, which I participated in.

Here is an excerpt from the Mini Medical School brochure that explains the program pretty well: “With this series, we hope to provide a forum for creative learning about medicine. We hope this mini medical school, with its special emphasis on art, will inspire artists and nonartists, as well as scientists and nonscientists.”

The mini medical school consists of 4 weekly sessions. Each session is divided in half, with the first half consisting of a lecture and the second half consisting of rotating interactive sessions. Artists are encouraged to bring sketching materials if they are so inclined. I’m halfway through the program already and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

Credit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research InstituteCredit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute

The topic of the first lecture was “Your Brain on Art,” and it was presented by Ann Harvey, one of VTC’s own research scientists. She talked about some studies that the school did that explored the brain’s various responses to art and what factors influence those responses. The interactive session that I was assigned to that week was a portable ultrasound technology session. I learned a bit about portable ultrasound machines and I was able to use one to locate the heart, kidney, and liver of some med student volunteers. I also volunteered to have my wrist looked at through an ultrasound, as we discussed the causes and common location of carpal tunnel. By the way, my wrist was fine–no carpal tunnel here!

Credit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research InstituteCredit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute

The second session took place last night and the lecture this time was “Anatomy 101,” presented by Saleem Ahmed, who is the director of Anatomical Science at VTC. This lecture was much less about art and instead focused on–very briefly–exploring the various systems in the human body. Knowledge of anatomy, of course is extremely beneficial in figure drawing, so it was interesting to take a closer look at the various photos and illustrations. My assigned interactive session for the night was conveniently a dry and wet anatomy lab. The highlight of the dry anatomy lab for me was looking at the school’s anatomy table. The brochure describes it well, it “resembles a giant IPad and teaches anatomy virtually.” Technology is amazing. I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to own one of these tables and refer to it while drawing the human figure. I don’t even want to know how much it costs, though.

Credit: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute

Finally, I don’t know how I didn’t figure out what “wet anatomy lab” meant beforehand, but in this lab, we were able to look at and touch a human cadaver. It was so strange to me, but also really cool. Surprisingly, I never felt queasy or lightheaded. I was able to feel the aorta and various organs such as the kidneys. I think it’s really helpful to have a basic understanding of your insides and how they work so I really enjoyed the session even though we pretty much never talked about art.

I’m really looking forward to next week’s session, which will cover “The Human Form Through the History of Art.” I can tell this one will be a bit more relevant to the artist participants because the presenter is an art professor from Hollins University :] Thanks for reading!