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Nov 5 / WSU Pre-Health

Art in Medicine

“So, you are a pre-med?”  I never liked that label. I almost wanted to respond “NO!” I knew that when someone learned I was a pre-med that they would be likely to assume that I was a major nerd, condescending, competitive, kind of crazy, and a type A personality.  I felt like an outsider in all of my pre-med courses. “You have interests other than studying?…Weird.” I have always been an artistic person and have had a range of interests such as playing music, making art, hiking, climbing rocks, sewing, adventuring, and doing all sorts of activities. Being a pre-med was the last stereotype I wanted to place onto myself.  For the first few years, I was somewhat miserable in the route that I had taken in college. I was a Biology student with average grades, but I worked really dang hard to be very average. We all know that coursework tends to consume the life of a pre-med.  I wanted to make art so badly but my creativity was so suppressed due to studying and lack of time. I am sure many of you are facing a similar situation. You have all these interests, yet absolutely no time.  I am a survivor, and I am here to tell you that there is a way out!!!! No, you do not have to drop out of college. You don’t even have to change your major! You simply must make the decision to set time aside to pursue what you love.  Expressing myself was very important to me. I wanted to find a way in which I could tie this into my career.  One day I had a light bulb moment in which I came to the realization that art is a form of healing and it could provide relief to those who may be experiencing some stress and tension. “Perfect!”, I thought,  “I shall find this art therapy club and I shall join it!” So, I searched and searched for some student organizations that would match my pursuit to provide art as a form of wellness.  Well, it turns out there was none that I could find. I was faced with the challenge of creating my very own student organization that could be exactly what I wanted it to be. I knew this would be an immense amount of work, and I already was short on time, yet, it was a pursuit that I really believed in. “Challenge accepted”, I thought, as I made my way to the Dean of Students Office to begin my new club.

A year and a half later, the student organization, Art in Medicine, is going strong! Our mission is to provide comfort and stress relief to the ill, disadvantaged, or handicapped and to beautify the community of Detroit.  This club is in conjunction with the Humanistic Medicine Group at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. We have had a variety of events such as cleaning up and painting the Grand River Corridor with medical students, co-hosting an art auction with the Museum of New Art, opportunities to attain a mentor medical student from WSU, etc. We are currently organizing an event to fundraise for art therapy scholarships for children. We are beginning to make art with children monthly at Children’s Hospital.  We are open to students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. You do not even have to be pre-med to join!

Yes, it has been a lot of work, but I have had a lot of fun with Art in Medicine. I even decided to declare my minor in art. That was more for my own sanity. The moral of my story is that your workload will probably not get any lighter any time soon, but you need to make your college experience one that will be memorable and enjoyable. I know that you have interests other than science, so I encourage you to find what you love and pursue it!

– Rita Elias
*For more information on Art in Medicine, email:


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