Nepali Times
Art from the heart

Ever wondered what interests future doctors bring into medical schools? Contrary to the usual stereotypes, many of Nepal's budding doctors are also painters, poets, photographers, and musicians.

For the past two years, Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) has been supporting its students' artistic endeavours by hosting an art competition for second years who are studying cardiology. They were asked to artistically conceptualise what they learnt about the heart and circulatory system.

The popular competition named Mero Mutu, Mero Kala (my heart my art) by Achyut Koirala from batch one, saw a surge in submissions this year with 30 pieces of art, two music videos, and an animation film. A panel of 10 judges chose the top three pieces and the top logo which were put on display at the college grounds on 11 October. The winners also received stethoscopes and PAHS mugs.

"We want our students to have a holistic education with a combination of arts, humanities, and sciences. This will give them a better understanding of the human condition and make them well prepared to become innovative health care leaders in rural Nepal one day," says Dr Carol Ann Courneya, an international faculty at PAHS who started the art contest and was one of the judges.

Kamal Sagar Thokar (1st prize)

I have been passionate about painting and drawing ever since I was in nursery. I like charcoal sketching in particular. Whenever I am bored or have free time I sit down with my sketch book and spend hours. I made a simple pencil sketch of the heart for the competition. Sometimes people unnecessarily attach all sorts of complicated emotions to the heart, but at the end it is a very simple organ which gives us life and teaches us to love. It took me three hours to complete the drawing and I was pretty surprised when I won the first prize because I took part because of my passion not with the aim of winning.

Seema Bhandari (2nd prize)

I have always been interested in art and was very involved during high school, but haven't been able to devote much time to my hobby since joining MBBS. So I'm glad the college organised this competition, it gave me the creative push.

I decided to make a 3D model because I wanted to try something new and simply making a sketch or painting wouldn't have been very interesting. The black and white hands stand for people from all ethnicities, religion, and races and the red nail polish represents women, all of whom come together in harmony. I attached a map of Nepal to the heart and coloured it red and blue just like our flag to signify that despite our differences we all have a common heart. It took me about a week to finish the project and I managed to take out time in between classes and after I completed my homework.

Jeetendra Bhandari and Sajan Acharya (3rd prize)

I write poems all the times in my diary. It helps me release stress and fight boredom. Sometimes I let my friends read my poem if they are feeling depressed. I usually don't limit myself to particular topics, but this was the first time I was writing about the heart (Sajan, left).

Sajan had written a poem and it was my idea to turn it into a video montage including all our memories from our first year in college. It took us four days, but it was great fun. We didn't think we would win, we did it for the experience. I would finish my homework by 10pm and work on the project for an hour or two. It's completely possible to combine a medical degree and still keep up with your interests. Besides nobody can study all the time, they would go crazy. (Jeetendra, right).

Watch the award winning video montage

Carmina Shrestha (Logo winner)

I am not really an artist, but I like to keep myself busy and this contest seemed like a good outlet. I feel like people usually put doctors in a pigeon hole: boring, studious, practical. In fact, most creative people work in the field of medicine. Our creativity is expressed in the way we handle different cases, communicate with patients, and manage time between work, family, and our interests.

My logo says that we should always keep our country within our hearts and nurture and love it as we would do ourselves. From the medical point of view, the logo emphasises the importance of our hearts and the need to take good care of it. The hands on the bottom represent the caring faculty and staff at PAHS.

1. Aasaya at
Encouraging artistic endeavors for burgeoning doctors might sound like an extracurricular pursuit, but some people argue that it is essential to produce empathetic and humane doctors. I invite you to see an article in NEJM by David Watts, one of such advocates:
It seems like imagination, which is nurtured by such artistic pursuits, is as important as technical know-how to be a wholesome doctor. PAHS indeed deserves credit for creative thinking that will no doubt contribute to producing better doctors.


(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)