On page 52, Hayley Specht, a third year medical student, explores the dual nature of medicine in her poem “Blackbeard, MD”.
Page 95 features striking nature photographs of David Weil, director of operations and educational technology for the Center for Bioethics and Human Sciences.
And on pages 58 and 59 you’ll find a pair of entertaining music videos from CT Lin, MD, professor of internal Medicine – an ode to vaccines on the “Hamilton” anthem “My Shot”, a celebration of telehealth that reinvents the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World”.
The 2021 issue, released in September, is the 14th volume of the annual publication that features poetry, prose, artwork and photographs from the CU Anschutz medical campus, including the work of students, professors, researchers, staff and even patients.
“I think in many ways it’s really become a tangible expression of a community,” says Tess Jones, editor-in-chief of The Human Touch and director of the Health Arts and Humanities Program. “Anschutz is so big and so diverse with a lot going on. The Human Touch has become a tangible expression of community among so many different constituencies. “
Digital publishing opens up new possibilities
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to digital-only editions of The Human Touch this year and last year, giving the publication the opportunity to experience the limitless nature of an online publication. Issue 2021 even has pages devoted to audio and video files of musical performances.
“We were very limited when we were doing the print versions, in terms of the number of images we could use, because it is very expensive to print,” says editor-in-chief Allison Dubner, doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “There were always a lot of parts that we would have liked to use that we couldn’t due to spacing issues. And while we’ve accepted videos and music in the past, it was basically, “Here’s a link; you can go and listen on the site. ‘ Being able to integrate it more fully this year was really exciting for us. We had to use more audiovisual pieces, which are really quite spectacular, but difficult to do in print format. “
Focus on medicine
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the articles featured in the magazine relate to healthcare in one way or another, whether it’s a medical student recounting the struggles of their freshman year, a patient reliving their initial diagnosis or a researcher sharing a photo taken in a fleeting moment away from the lab.
“I don’t mean to say it provides an outlet, but I think it provides a mechanism for reflection and expression. And that has become more and more important over the past year and a half, ”Jones said. “It’s not just a way of thinking about what’s going on, but it’s also an opportunity for healing and connection. There is a kind of energy going back and forth between the writer and the reader. I can’t think of another time in our life when it was more needed.
For second-year medical student Avalon Swenson, sharing her work has allowed her to show her appreciation for people who donate their bodies to science. His drawing “The Creation of the Doctor Student” – which, in a nod to Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, represents a human hand reaching out to touch a skeletal hand – appears in volume 2021 by The Human Touch.
Artwork by Avalon Swenson
“We learn so much from them and they give us a lot, but we also give back because that’s what they wanted to do with their bodies,” says Swenson. “We give them the opportunity to teach us in a way that I feel you can’t learn without having some cadaver lab experience. It was a nice way to top it off for me.
Swenson says the post also gave him a way to get to know some of his colleagues better, including another student whose poetry is included in this year’s issue.
“I loved her job,” she says. “He’s really into neuroscience, very intelligent, and that’s not how I imagined him at all, he was also being a poet. It’s definitely another layer.
Dubner echoed this sentiment, adding that for contributors, The Human Touch allows them to express other aspects of themselves that typically aren’t on display in a classroom or lab.
“We’re on a medical campus and a lot of our focus is on science,” she says. “There is this idea that if you are more inclined to science, you are also not inclined to art. It’s a great opportunity for people to be able to show that they are both, and that they have other passions outside of their studies or work.
Campus calling card
Jones still doesn’t know whether the 2022 edition of The Human Touch will be digital or print, but either way, she knows she will continue to be a welcome representation of campus.
“It was a really wonderful business card for our campus,” Jones says. “When we had a real physical edition, it was always given out at the Silver and Gold Banquet. We have always had copies available for free at the bookstore, and it ended up in hospitals and clinic. Now that it is electronic, its distribution is even wider. I think our campus is proud of it, and the contributors are incredibly proud of and support the company. “
The Human Touch will begin accepting submissions for the 2022 edition in November; keep an eye on the post website for more information.