Many little kids are artistic, creating masterpieces with crayons, Magic Markers, and watercolors. But often, as they ease out of young childhood, other interests emerge and take priority.
Explore This IssueJuly 2022
Not so for Cheyanne M. Silver, MD, now a second-year resident in otolaryngology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “I always tell people it isn’t so much that I started being artistic at a certain time. Somewhere around age 10, some kids stop drawing and painting, but I just never did,” said Dr. Silver, who is now 30 years old. “I’ve always had a sketchbook with me.”
Working primarily in mixed media, including drawing with ink and graphite and acrylic painting, Dr. Silver finds that her artwork helps her, and hopefully her audience, process ideas about physician wellness and burnout. Her piece “Resilience” was featured in an exhibition at the Rochester Art Center in the fall of 2020. The painting, created using acrylic paint on a wood panel, depicts her experience when she hears her medical mentors urge caution regarding her plan to pursue a surgical career as a female physician while questioning how to achieve balance between long working hours and a fulfilling personal life.
For Dr. Silver, whose family includes several medical professionals, pursuing medicine as a career was a way to integrate her love of art in a visceral way to work with and process medicine’s challenges. “I think art is a powerful way to address the fact that there are long hours, and the work is hard,” she said. “You never want to sit through another lecture about the topic of physician wellness and burnout. But being able to transition that into art and in three dimensions—it’s a powerful tool to address the issues of physician wellness that isn’t another paper to read or a seminar to attend. It isn’t as painful.”
Where Art and Medicine Intersect
Dr. Silver grew up in Iowa, where her father and maternal grandfather were physicians. Her father was an infectious disease specialist and her grandfather was a nuclear medicine researcher and later a family physician who taught residents.
Her mother was a nurse before she left the profession to raise Dr. Silver and her older brother Nicholas. “Medicine was a very common topic at dinner,” she said. “I got interested in medicine because I liked the puzzle of it all. I find people fascinating, so treating them is an endless fascination.”