At the U’s School of Medicine, students’ desires to express themselves artistically translated into a creative journal.
The publication, Rubor, publishes the artwork of students, faculty, staff and community members from around the Wasatch area. It began in 2012, when then-first-year medical student Quinn Orb approached Gretchen Case, associate professor in the School of Medicine. Orb learned about literary journals published in medical schools around the nation and thought, “Why not here?”
Three years and three editions later, the journal has about 30 submissions annually of photography, paintings, poetry and prose, said Marin de la Presa, editor-in-chief and fourth-year medical student.
“Everyone does have this intrinsic artistic ability,” he said. “We really want to get all students, regardless of their background, to explore their artistic side and merge that with their academic interests.”
The journal is edited and published by medical students and is funded by the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities and the Alumni Association. While it is open to all departments across campus, most submissions come from those in the medical field, so there tends to be an underlying theme.
For example, when he looks at the drawing of a young warrior about to fight a dragon, all de la Presa can see is a medical student facing his exams to become a licensed doctor.
Titles of works from previous years include “Chemo Pond” and “Nature the Healer: Digitalis.” Case, faculty advisor for Rubor, said her favorite pieces are those that tell a physician’s story.
“Medicine is full of these tiny little moments of life, death, humanity and pain,” she said. “Physicians need to keep themselves in check, but they have to work through those feelings somewhere.”
The literary journal gives everyone — doctors, patients and relatives — an outlet of expression while reminding the community that “medicine is a human endeavor.” This is especially important for students who get caught up in the stresses of medical school, Case said, focusing on the clinical skills and the scientific knowledge while forgetting about the human connection.
The journal will accept submissions online until Jan. 31 at rubor.med.utah.edu to be published in the spring. De la Presa also hopes to include a digital component online so filmmakers or dancers can submit pieces. He does not want anyone to feel limited, so people can even use a pseudonym or remain anonymous.