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Talents Beyond Medicine

Caring for patients also requires time when physicians and medical students step away from the bedside to cultivate their own gifts and talents. We connected with four members of our Saint Louis University School of Medicine community to explore their passions outside their profession.

Torrey Guan, Third-Year Medical Student

Headshot of Torrey Guan

Before Torrey Guan embarked on his studies in medicine, he initially attended Case Western Reserve University on a full-ride music scholarship to become an oboist. He started playing with a family friend who was a professional oboist for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. From there, he participated in multiple orchestras — including the California Youth Symphony — performed abroad and played for various volunteer organizations. He loves the challenge that a new piece of music brings, and it gives him something to look forward to outside of his studies. “During my time in orchestra, I've met incredible individuals from all walks of life. I've made lifelong friends, who I continue to talk with today. But besides the interpersonal benefits of having a hobby outside of medical school, it also acts as a way to help me recharge after a long day.

Victoria Leung, Third-Year Medical Student

Victoria Leung has a lifelong connection to making art — first as an acrylic painter and now as a scratch artist. Scratch art uses tools such as a scratch knife, wooden stylus or an etching needle to draw lines on a white cardboard that is covered with a thin layer of black tempera paint. She said her work with scratch art allows her to freely express herself and transform her emotions and memories into a beautiful creation. It also provides her with a hobby outside of her medical school studies. “We spend countless hours of our day studying and caring for patients in inpatient and outpatient settings. We, like our patients, are humans, too, and we should be able to cultivate our interests that make us feel good about ourselves. Finding sufficient ways to destress to be in our best place mentally, physically, and emotionally is crucial to providing the best care for our patients.”

Jamie Sutherell, M.D. Professor and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology

Jamie Sutherell has pursued art for as long as he can recall, with an initial dream to become a medical illustrator before starting his own journey through medical school. Today, he uses his talent for creating realistic landscapes and wildlife paintings to showcase the beauty and complexity of nature. He explained that painting is a form of meditation where his busy days as a physician and professor melt away with the strokes of his paintbrush. “We all need a way to decompress and activate other parts of our brain and free our mind. For me, that’s painting. I try to end most days by painting — even if only for 20 minutes — to help me provide closure to each day and settle my mind.”

Keniesha Thompson, M.D. Assistant Dean of Student Affairs

Headshot of Keniesha Thompson

Keniesha Thompson grew up in a family of creators. Her grandfather was an artist by trade and her mother took every opportunity to beautify their home while staying on a strict budget. Today, she channels her family’s artistic influence into her passion for event decorating and organic balloon designs. She enjoys sharing her talent with others at their events, but it also gives her a creative outlet beyond her work in medicine. “Having a creative outlet has really helped me to find balance in life. It allows me to use my hands and express my creativity in a way that is not always possible at work.”