The Art of Healing

When it comes to medical school, learning complex chemistry and advanced biology is often the easy part. It’s undertaking the human aspects of the profession—tough conversations with patients and learning to cope with traumatic experiences—that are really challenging, says fourth-year University of Utah medical student Lillian Boettcher.

She’s the current editor of Rubor: Reflections on Medicine from the Wasatch Front, a student-run publication from the U’s Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities. It’s a collection of visual art, poetry, and essays submitted by students, doctors, nurses, and others in health professions at the U and the surrounding community.

Students usually expect to take on massive amounts of schoolwork and stress. But they’re not always ready for the intense emotions that come with the practice of medicine, says Susan Sample PhD’15, faculty advisor for Rubor. “Art reminds us that medicine is science applied to people. And sometimes putting pen to paper, or paint to canvas, can help us process and reflect in a way that may be healing professionally as well as personally,” Sample says.

Rubor was started by students in 2013 and is published online at as well as in 1,000 print copies distributed annually. Here’s just a small selection of some of the art that has appeared in recent issues.

Before We Were Sick, Phoebe Draper
Man in Pain, Phoebe Draper
Woman, Spine and Scapulae, Posterior, Emily Kauwe
Code of Silence, Wendy Young Rockne
Team 1, Lillian Boettcher


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  1. I am a 60+ year old physician / surgeon with a vast experience in the practice of “traditional Health care.” When you use the word HEALING it means many things to many people, me included. I would like to know how you define it and what measures that you take to promote or advance the cause of healing.

    Douglas C Appleby MD

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