MedstART combines students’ interest in medicine and art to help the community

Kaiya Little, Life and Arts General Reporter

Whenever Maisie Nievera passes through a doorway, she notices small details about the space around her. She begins taking mental notes, contemplating possible improvements or adjustments. 

It’s become second nature. 

“(Design) can really impact our health and well-being, which I find crazy,” the biology junior said. “Every time I enter a building, I’m like, ‘That’s really bad architecture,” (or) “That’s really good architecture.’” 

MedstART — a nearly one-year-old club dedicated to connecting pre-medical students with artistic opportunities serving the community — helps students like Nievera find creative outlets. This semester marks the group’s first in-person activities since the pandemic where members have been able to participate in hands-on projects instructing local children in both the arts and sciences.

Nievera serves as MedstART’s public relations officer, an experience she said motivated her to add an architecture minor. 

“The influence of MedstART really pushed me to pursue creative activities,” Nievera said. “(Art) keeps me distracted from stressful activities at school … it’s pretty important to me.”

The words “advocate, represent and thrive” make up the acronym ART in the group’s name. To facilitate this mission, the six-person officer team provides members with a structure-free space to bond and make art each month for local children’s care facilities. 

“We established a community that’s not only open to medical or pre-medical students, but also creative people that want to know more about science, just as much as we want to know more about art,” Nievera said.

In the past, the club hosted various speakers specializing in the intersection between art and public health. Biology sophomore Katie Tehas said their presentations always blew her mind. 

“It’s not really something that you (expect to) find on campus, it’s a unique club,” Tehas said. “It revitalized my love for medicine.”

As a sophomore, biology junior Manasa Kotamraju wondered how to merge her two passions in art and medicine when no organizations on campus fit the bill. That’s when she thought of creating the club, and three months and a successful LinkedIn post later, she made her plan a reality.

“I tried advancing my art skills during the pandemic, but I thought it wasn’t sustainable in the long run for me, because I thought my future would be in health care,” Kotamraju said. “So I was like ‘Maybe there’s a way to combine the two so I can still keep art with me while I’m on my healthcare journey.’”  

Now co-president of MedstART, Kotamraju said she sees herself opening up a family clinic post-medical school where she can carry on the skills she gained in the club.

“I definitely want to continue art in the future. I’ve been doing it since I was five,” Kotamraju said.  “If I were to start a practice I’d want a waiting room with a bunch of art materials in it… like, not the typical waiting room.”

Whether MedstART inspires students in the direction of medicine or art, Kotamraju said everyone needs an outlet, and that’s what she hopes to provide with the club.

“(Hopefully we can) ignite some sort of creativity that can be brought into the future as well,” Kotamraju said.