guest post by Nita Chen (@neurologicalpanda)
On one of my medical school interviews, I was asked what alternate career I would have chosen if not medicine, and I replied with stop motion artist. It’a an odd alternative, but I think it speaks to the duality of my passions. Although I have pursued a career in medicine for most of my life, having a creative outlet has always been important to me. In many ways, creating art served as a way for me to process my thoughts on hard days and to express myself.
My affinity to creating things led me down the path of neurosurgery for a long time (neuroscience plus doing things with hands equals neurosurgery, right?); however, my love for talking to patients, and the academic exercise of localization finalized my fate in neurology, and I am currently finishing my last year in neurology residency to pursue a fellowship in movement disorders.
How this started? During my nights on medicine ICU as a measly preliminary intern resident, I started doodling to pass the time. My peers (unfortunately) got a peek of this, and I was astounded by their amused response. Most of my life, my doodles were simply an observational event and thrown away in a crumple later. Or tucked in some forgotten notebook. Seeing the enjoyment my colleagues experienced from them, I started sharing more of these scraps, and these eventually became fully fledged comics (at least some of them). Some of them are funny, others more serious. Some comment on the impossibility of being a resident physician while others showcase the struggles of balancing life in such a high-pressure world. Although I still have much to learn in both medicine and the world of visual arts, the common commiseration of the joys, struggles, and reflections in medicine manifested in my drawings have helped this journey feel less lonesome and less impossible. In some ways, it’s really given me the reprieve for me to keep chugging along, and I hope that this can do the same for others!