Wonder wov(m)en, 2019, Acrylic on canvas
Highly Commended Artistic Entry Winner for the MWF Junior Doctor Prize 2022 ' Whole Person Care?'
Medicine is more than treatment; it is healing. In the spirit of 'Whole person care', the principal theme of this painting is Convalescence – an opening towards healing and hope.
In the first half of the canvas, the blue represents the state of melancholy of a mother who has lost her child. I leave out her eyes to capture artistic sensitivity and portray her tears (or lack thereof) in the golden drops of her jewellery that interweaves with her garment. The modest apparel attempts to hide the grief, stigma and shame. However, the golden sequins vibrate silently with the reverence that every soul is capable of expressing – Hope. In the latter half, the blue strokes remind water and healing, a stark contrast to loss in the first half.
I painted this as a medical student rotating through Women's Health. I spoke to the mother about dealing with loss and fears. We are both grateful for the conversation we have outside of Medicine. I reflected on our conversation, and learned how compassion could open doors to hope. Apart from treating physical and mental ailments, medical professionals are capable of touching and supporting lives.
Afterthought: A recent experience as a doctor made me feel that I had been a naïve medical student.
We utilise diverse healthcare sources with aims that it will help patients achieve the best
health outcome. A day in a hospital is organised based on institutional needs. Amidst the chaos of a busy ward, we make referrals to interdisciplinary teams and support services in the community. As a junior doctor, while explaining how these services will provide patient-centred care, a patient points out its idiosyncrasies.
The frail gentleman remarked, 'I am going to have more unfamiliar faces to provide care?'.
I admit the panic I felt knowing our attempt at providing holistic care fell short. His comment on the rhythmic alienation in healthcare. I spoke to a senior health professional who pointed out that holistic care involves mobilising every member of society. It was easier said than done.
I marvel at the extensiveness of human experience and human reason. Whole person care had no typical textbook definition; it varied from individual to individual. While we rise above and beyond the call of duty to care for our patients, whole-person care starts simply with sincere compassion to achieve health and hope.