Scope 2016

Welcome to the sixth issue of SCOPE, the arts and humanities journal of UT Southwestern Medical School. This issue features a diverse collection of works in visual arts, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry that reflect the thoughts and growth of our medical students as they journey through different stages of their medical education.

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Simplicity in Intricacy

By Ambereen Ahmed

Ambereen Ahmed, M.D., Class of 2018, is a first-year medical student who graduated from the University of Houston with a minor in Studio Art. During her classes, she realized that drawing nude figures allows us to see the human body in its simplest form – no distractions, no statements by apparel, just simply [...]

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By Shalvi Patel

Shalvi Patel, M.D., Class of 2017 with Distinction in Global Health, has a love for both art and global health. She combines them here to portray a bigger message: most global health efforts are often left incomplete because we struggle to understand the needs of those we wish to serve, and we [...]

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A Corner of the World

By Kajal Mehta

The following is a series of photographs—a photostory—documenting a day in the villages of India from the perspective of a mobile medical camp. Every morning, we drove into a remote village and were quickly surrounded by children who immediately dropped their chores to see the curious new vehicle. We set up in [...]

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By Tyler Ellis Smith

This photograph reminds me of medical school and life in general. Far off in the distance is the goal, but between here and there lie countless obstacles, each with its own ups and downs. There is still so much that my classmates and I have yet to learn on our path [...]

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The Girl in the Green Shirt

By Elise Rasmussen

The smell of canned green beans rushed into my nostrils as the luminescent green juice ran all over my tray. So much for the little sections that were supposed to contain each food item in its separate compartment. The transgression seemingly vanished as the liquid quickly disappeared, soaked up by the bread [...]

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Untitled For You

By Herbert Rosenbaum

For You - Our time together was brief but blessed

The soft whirring of the suction vacuum Fills the otherwise quiet room.And the fluorescent light shines behind her bed and gives herA glowing aura.

The end is particularly soberingEspecially as a soon-to-be practitioner of medicineFor I know all the signs and symptoms of deathDown to [...]

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By Mike Clark

Proteins and channels and ions and enzymes In lumens and spaces and membranes and at times Seem more to remember The med fire-hose awaits But every Wednesday gives us a taste

Called Seldin, Sprague, Fashena, or Cary Estabrook or Pritchard are our-six where we Physically examine [...]

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Poem to a Cadaver

By Lawrence Aung

From a card I was toldthat you died of C.H.Feighty-eight years oldOur time together seemed the sameBut I never quite caught your nameAnd on each dayyou must have feltLike a fallen treeon the veldt,whose leavesthe windhad stripped away

I held your heartIt was a seedcovered in rich black clayrooted in a bloody soilthe [...]

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Outbound, 7:30 p.m.

By Bethany Johnston

My poetry was awfulbut you made me send it anyway.And when Mr. Collins wrote backI could tell he wasn't impressed,but you shook with joy.

You always wanted me to write.Holiday chatter, the smell of coffee bubbling,and small clicks of rumikube tilesheralded the coming rain.A thunderhead of embroidered denim.Sun showers of journals and books.Neatly gift [...]

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Fading Minds

By Jake Rice

There was pain in his eyes but no fear could be found,

He had faced death before and won every round.

This time was different, both he and I knew,

I helplessly wondered just what I could do.

I smiled as he mumbled; I tried to stay strong,

But my hero was defeated and it just felt [...]

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Wings of an Angel

By Shanup Dalal

It is said that you will never forget your first patient and your first patient death. Ms. X was one in the same for me, but I will not forget her for much more. I remember an air of nervousness overwhelming me as I walked down to the emergency department to see [...]

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By Kathleen Evans

During my second night on trauma call, I had had a very slow day, only receiving my first page at 8 p.m. for a man with abdominal trauma. As we were admitting him, two police officers wheeled in another patient, a middle-aged woman. She had been found unconscious in her neighborhood with [...]

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My Ego

By Kenrick Lam

Note: PA = Physician Assistant. NP = Nurse Practitioner.

Dear Forebrain,

I hate PA’s and NP’s on a visceral level. This hate is completely illogical and would never hold weight in any argument. But here are the reasons why I cry every time on the wards when I work with NP’s and PA’s (which [...]

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Artist: Shelly Xie About the Artist

Shelly Xie is a medical student in the Class of 2017. She created this sand animation piece to shine a light on the struggles of those who battle with schistosomiasis on a daily basis. The goal is to expand public knowledge of the disease and encourage people to take action [...]

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Woman in Pose

Artist: Nate Milburn Woman in Pose About the Artist

Nate Milburn, M.D./M.B.A. class of 2017, had never taken an organized art class his entire life until Dr. Sumeet Teotia's "Classical Figure Drawing,” where he produced this piece. After realizing that this work would likely be the pinnacle of his art career, he retired from all artist [...]

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Shadow Play

She’s sitting on the couch. Fraying the tissue in her hands as she folds and refolds it, she scrunches up her nose so she won’t cry for the fifth consecutive session.

“I don’t like to think of myself as a victim,” she says defiantly.

But she’s instantly in that room, remembering the flowering purple that claimed [...]

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Spinal Muscular Atrophy

The silent heirloom fest’ring in the boughsBy lots wrought pestilence upon the leafAnd though, forbearing since, must here endowDisease in birth which rails and spoils with grief.What voice coerced the spine to bend aside,The legs to sleep in dreams and not obey?Yet you, sweet child, are not so warped as I,Who foiled, not suff’ring, [...]

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The sirens, the sirens,
They came early today.
The sirens, the sirens,
Signal help is on its way.
The sirens, the sirens,
Hint humanity still has hope.
The sirens, the sirens,
Puts my medical study into scope.


Nathalie White grew up in Sunnyvale, TX, and graduated from Dallas Baptist University. The sirens from an ambulance weigh heavy on her heart when she [...]

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Internal Medicine Reflections

For one month this spring, I rotated through Dermatology. Perhaps because the specialty is visible and tactile in such an intimate way, the stark reality of what we sometimes do to our patients – not just for our patients – became very apparent to me.

One memory that has stayed with me involved an elderly [...]

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Third Year Reflections

Internal Medicine

TIA observation. Nursing home waiting list after PEG tube placement. ACS rule out.

Within my first days on the VA wards I quickly learned that these are not considered “sexy” admissions. In fact, they are pretty run-of-the-mill. Maybe even – boring? As a newly-minted third year student I still had an eager excitement for [...]

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Life Struggles

Artist: Irene Lazarus

The piece was inspired by Surrealism. The Surrealist artists use the canvas as a medium to express their abstract ideas or thoughts in a figurative way. There is much symbolism in the juxtaposition that the painters present. They use the dreamlike unconsciousness to bring their ideas/feeling to the conscious awareness of the viewer. [...]

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Sandra’s Story: Living with HIV

Author's note: Before I began medical school, I had the privilege of spending three months in the Dominican Republic working at a clinic that cared for patients living with HIV. During my time there I met many incredible people whose lives are testimonies not only to the power of modern medicine, but also to [...]

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One a.m.

Note: Details of this case have been altered to protect patient identities.

It is 1 a.m. A man lies motionless on the bed. A police officer shifts his weight. A mother sobs uncontrollably. A nurse steps back, sidestepping the blood. A doctor calls out the time.

It is 1 a.m. Two children become fatherless. A bullet [...]

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Note: Details of this case have been altered to protect patient identities.

Upon receiving the personal preference sheet for pediatrics, I was faced with a bit of a conundrum: I had always intended to avoid kids and consequently had done little in the way of thinking about pediatric subspecialties. Given that two [...]

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Doctor As Insect

Note: Details of this case have been altered to protect patient identities.


A title.

Is this me?

There are times when I wonder if the single purpose of medical school is to whittle away splinters, to separate wheat from chaff, to forge steel from impurities – to remove anything that might distract a person from being a [...]

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Death as a New Acquaintance

Note: Details of this case have been altered to protect patient identities.

He was the first person I have ever seen die. I’ve seen people who were dying, almost dead, better off dead, and as good as dead, but he literally died right there in front of me. It was kind of subtle, really. Just [...]

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UTSW Anatomists

UTSW Anatomists - View 1 UTSW Anatomists - View 2

The Artist

Nannan Zhang, M.D., Class of [...]

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Endless hours of practice exam questions on the computer, coupled with a nagging guilt of not studying enough, led me to feel this way…

Blissfully lithe, seated supineBlinking laconically at the bright hazeThe computer flickers, the eyes blinkBut nothing filters through the mind's maze.

A labyrinthine depositof filth so rotten, that the mind's numbnessBeguiles the owner's [...]

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Bioengineered - View 1 Bioengineered - View 2 About the work

Medical treatments often involve manipulating natural progressions in the body to improve outcome. The bamboo plant represented in white plaster was genetically engineered into a spiraling form, but my sculpture takes this concept one step further to include nuts and bolts supporting the plant structure, emphasizing [...]

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Face About the work 

With this drawing, I was attempting to use a specific angle of light (from below) to accentuate shapes of the human face that we do not usually see (notice shadowing above the nose). The portrait is a study of the human face done realistically in order to appreciate details, shape, proportionality (or lack [...]

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Surgery About the Work

Portrait of a general surgeon at Medical City Hospital.

The Artist

Ashley Stone, M.D., Class of [...]

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Tetralogy of Fallot

Artist: John Matt Hancock

I wanted to create an abstract expressionist representation of a cardiac pathology that could only be recognized by the medically trained eye.

Tetralogy of Fallot

About the Artist: John Matt Hancock

John Matt is a second-year medical student at UT [...]

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Paper Symphony

Author:Jennifer Harris 

Medicine is tuned so often to the busyness of sights and smells—to the shocking red of blood or perhaps the stench of gingivitis and decay. Somehow it is the sounds that seem to take more effort and stillness to hear. With this poem, I tried to capture the isolation, the universality, the pain, [...]

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Son of the Soil

Author:Anoop Sheshadri

Jonah was a farmer and a farmer’s son and all the big-city swindlers and small-time hucksters couldn’t change that. He was born at the homestead and delivered by Father’s own big hands, because after all a boy was smaller than colt or calf and plenty of those came into the world by that [...]

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Dear Lucy

Author: Nicky Chopra

The first experience of death and dissection in the anatomy lab is a powerful one for any medical student. This letter was written retrospectively to a woman who chose to donate her body for this most insightful interaction.

When we first met you I had so many questions about your life. What did [...]

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Bright Stars, Old bones

Author: Anoop Sheshadri

The story was originally for an ACP contest to write a story of 1,000 words or fewer with the theme “compassion in medicine.” At the time I’d been reading about the history of medicine and the dual role played in many cultures of the physician as both doctor and shaman. I’d also [...]

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