Now in its third year of publication, the College of Medicine literary journal Mentis continues to provide a creative outlet for students in a field many perceive as scientific and strait-laced.
The student-run magazine features original works by UC medical students—including essays, interviews, humor, poetry, photography and artwork.
It was founded in 2011, when now third-year student Khanant Desaihad was in his first year at the College of Medicine. He remembers being inspired by writers like Atul Gawande and Malcolm Gladwell and how they translated complex ideas through their books and articles.
"I wanted to create a forum where our incredibly talented student body could share their own unique ideas and visions of medicine and inspire those around them,” he says.
After reviewing similar journals at other schools, Desai created a website and recruited an executive board from his class to write and contribute original artwork.
In order to continue publication as rising students move to their clinical training years, he transitioned the magazine’s editorial board to second-year students Erin Armao and Benjamin Cox.
Though Cox says he became involved in Mentis so he "would be forced to make time for writing,” he says he has now found a strong foundation in writing through it.
"Medical school has a way of thrusting you into experiences that demand to be written about, and I often find myself writing with a sense of urgency that if I don’t get this down, something will be lost,” he says.
Armao, who started writing poetry in elementary school, says she finds it even more important to take the time to write in medical school.
"When I write, I create for myself a space to take a deep breath and reflect on what I’ve learned and observed,” she says. "For a moment, I am able to step back from all the time I spend cramming my head with pathways, mnemonics and anatomical structures, and remind myself of the mystery, humanity and grace that surrounds the practice of medicine.”
For students hesitant to jump into the literary field, Cox says he’s become convinced that writing is not something just for the English majors—and that the ranks of physician-writers are full of notable names, including Anton Chekov, William Carlos Williams, Walker Percy, John Keats and A.J. Cronin.
"I can’t help but wonder what this strange connection is between writing, and indeed art collective, and medicine,” he says. "We have all heard that medicine is an art; maybe this overlap between physicians and artists occurs because many of the qualities that make someone a good artist are also crucial to becoming a good doctor.”
At UC, he hopes Mentis will continue to be a marriage between both art and medicine—"not only because pursuing art will make us better doctors, but because medicine without art is no medicine at all.”
Mentis is published online three times a year, with the first print edition scheduled for winter 2013.
Submissions can be emailed to the editorial board at firstname.lastname@example.org. If students are interested in submitting artwork, digitized pieces can be emailed directly to the editorial board, or the editorial board can assist with photographing or scanning the art into a digital format. For a look at past issues, visit www.mentis-uc.com.