A TCOM student group is using their artistic talent to put smiles on faces
Jerry Amomoy’s heart was with art, but he also loved medicine. After his first year as an undergrad, when he worked in an emergency room as a scribe, his heart was pulled toward a career in medicine, but his passion for art never waned.
Now Amomoy, a second-year student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, is the president and one of the founders of the Arts in Medicine Club at TCOM that is displaying the talents of medical students while giving back to the community.
In just 18 months since its founding, the group has raised money for art supplies for kids, volunteered at Cook Children’s Hospital, made Christmas cards for seniors, made Valentine’s Day cards, created an on-campus Art Gallery and much more. The Arts in Medicine Club has branched out into many areas, with passionate students expressing their skills through art, while navigating their way through medical school.
A Blank Canvas
It was orientation week for TCOM’s Class of 2025 at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth during the summer of 2021. Amomoy was meeting new faces and started seeing how many fellow students had artistic talents of their own.
“I grew up with art,” said second-year TCOM student Alicia Segovia. “I thought I could go into art school but didn’t have the resources when I was younger, but I continued to do it as a hobby and a way to express my feelings.”
Amomoy had a plan and a vision. He wanted to start a hospital-based art-volunteering project, specifically one for kids who were going to be in the hospital for an extended period.
“When you’re in the hospital it can get lonely, and for kids that’s even harder,” Amomoy said. “I wanted to volunteer and visit these children, interact with them and see what I could draw to help cheer them up.”
This was the plan, and his pitch to his classmates was straightforward. Classmates Bharati Murthy, Cathy Guo, Dustin Luu and Segovia were all behind the project. Getting into hospitals during a pandemic would take time, but their first goal was to create a club.
They began planning and Amomoy approached his advisor Dr. Janet Lieto about creating a club. Lieto was supportive of the students and recommended Lin Nelson, who has a passion for art herself, as the club’s advisor.
“They are an incredibly passionate and energetic group who have innovatively combined their compassion and dedication to medicine with helping the community,” Nelson said. “They represent the emerging physician leaders of tomorrow with the heart, values and excellence that TCOM is known for.”
The Arts in Medicine Club was made official in the fall of 2021 and they were off and running. The group’s first project was to make Christmas cards and donate them to a local hospice. The club received such positive feedback from the hospice, they began branching out into different areas and collaborating with different clubs on campus.
“We got a great message back that all of the patients loved the cards,” Amomoy said. “Some didn’t have anything from their families at all, and to receive a message like that over the holiday was the best.”
The Arts in Medicine Club made Valentine’s Day cards. The members worked with the Islamic Association at HSC to make cards for Eid al-Fitr. They hosted a painting in the park, decorated potted plants with the HSC Sustainability Office and raised more than $300 worth of art supplies and donated those to the Alliance for Children, a non-profit group in Tarrant County that protects and helps victims of child abuse.
In July of 2022, the club hosted an Art Gallery for TCOM students to show off their many talents, from paintings to pictures it was a refreshing look at uniquely made art. In just 12 months, the Arts in Medicine Club had grown to more than 30 members and were actively involved in the community and on campus … but Amomoy’s passion and dream had yet to be accomplished.
Going to the ER
In August of 2022, volunteer work in hospitals following the COVID-19 pandemic became more frequent. Amomoy wanted the Arts in Medicine Club to volunteer at Cook Children’s Medical Center Emergency Department — a feat easier said than done. After tirelessly working with the hospital, the members worked out a date in August for TCOM students to come to the emergency department.
They came up with the idea to find a spot in the department and set up their unique idea of an “Art Cart” with crafts, a chance to color, draw and give the parents and children a chance to relax.
“When I volunteered for my first shift, I was expecting it to be calmer, but the ER was busy and every single seat was taken,” said TCOM second-year student Bharati Murthy. “The parents looked tired and the kids weren’t doing well, so when we had the art cart, it took their mind off why there were there.”
Murthy herself has used art for as long as she can remember. Her talents had seen her mix art with STEM, use art to make presents for her friends and family and also relax and unwind from her own difficult moments of medical school. However, this night was about the kids.
“When we rolled the cart out in the play area and sat down, the parents you could tell were very excited,” Amomoy said. “It was so busy but the kids loved it, and the art was there for those families when they needed it the most. It was really impactful.”
The art cart wasn’t just a fun activity for kids, but also a way to give parents a short break.
“We let the parents know that we are medical students volunteering,” Segovia said. “They can have their child here at our table doing crafts and artwork with other kids while they took a break, maybe took care of other siblings or just used it as an opportunity to catch their breath.”
The students worked the 7-9 p.m. shift, seeing all kinds of kids come up, draw, explore and even make friends of their own with the other children at the ER that night. It was impactful, just as they wanted it to be.
“I left with the biggest smile,” Murthy said. “It is one of those experiences that really lingered with me. I still share it. My interactions with some of these kids are heartwarming. When you are caught up in the routine of waking up, studying and looking at material, you can sometimes forget the reason why you are doing this. Then when you volunteer for Cook Children’s, you are able to connect and realize this is why I’m doing this. It was a lot of fun.”
Mixing Medicine with Arts
There is a palpable enthusiasm for art when you speak to members of the club. Their mission weaves itself into the tapestry of osteopathic medicine as they strive to “create an immersive and inclusive space to combine creativity, humanism and service for our peers during our journey in medicine.”
Amomoy, Segovia and Murthy each express a desire to bring their artistic talent into their future practice in their own unique ways.
Murthy is interested in going into pediatrics as a specialty, and she sees using the techniques that art has taught her as a tool to help her patients.
“Being in the art community, you pick up on things you might not be told especially when you are analyzing artwork,” she said. “When I walk into a patient’s room, I want to use that to pick up on the family dynamic, how comfortable the child might be by just observing. But I also want to bring more artwork into the rooms and the walls.”
Segovia has an interest in anesthesiology and sees an opportunity to mix her artistic talents into hospitals as well.
“You can do so many things with artwork,” she said. “You can draw on Band-Aids, the cast of a child — and I can see myself doing something like that to help those who are in the hospital.
Amomoy is still exploring what type of specialty he would like to pursue, but he is also very proud of forming the Arts in Medicine Club at TCOM and sees more opportunities for the group.
“It’s been my little baby,” he said. “I would love to see these projects that we poured our heart into still happening after we graduate. I want to see student artwork shows that highlight how multifaceted how medical students can be.”
What seems like an unlikely pairing, art and medicine has turned into a match, and for the members of the Arts in Medicine Club, that is a masterpiece.