Students drawn to art session hosted by OUWB student organizations
Students show off their work at the Wind Down Wednesday event
Students show off their work after taking part in the Wind Down Wednesday event.

Nearly 40 medical students spent a recent evening at a guided painting session in O’Dowd Hall hosted by the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and Spools and Sutures.

The two student interest groups collaborated to host the event, called “Wind Down Wednesday,” as a means to de-stress.

Participants were provided a set of paints, brushes, and canvases. The final product for the event was an anatomical heart with artistic elements like flowers added in. Participants didn’t have to follow the tutorial if they wished to paint something else.

The session was guided by Nicole Lewis, M4, who also facilitated the session two years ago virtually when she was on AMWA’s social and networking committee.

“Spools and Sutures (is a) non-academic club,” said Madison Romanski, M2, president, Spools and Sutures. “(It’s) a way to relax and do crafts and other projects, so (this event) fits in with it this way, where it’s more stress relief or still maintaining your hobbies and not just being a student.”

Students painting during Wind Down Wednesday
Students participating in the Wind Down Wednesday event.

This is the third year that AMWA has hosted the event — however, this is the first time the event has been held in person.

“Having it in person is fun versus last year, where they did it virtually,” said Melanie Ermler, M2, vice president, AMWA. “It was a good idea because it makes it convenient for everyone, but honestly, nobody wants to sit in front of a laptop.”

Other participants shared similar thoughts.

“People were able to have a little more artistic freedom, good energy, and not (have to) think too hard about the design itself,” said Emily Babcock, M2, president, AMWA.

Lewis said art has been a long-standing tool she uses to manage stress.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing art ever since art classes in middle school and high school,” said Lewis. “I’ve just always been drawn to it. Painting is pretty much my specialty.”

Despite the busyness of medical school, Lewis said she tries to save space for her hobby.

“It’s been harder (to find time), to have more of that balance in my life, to be able to keep doing art, because it does take up a big chunk of time…it would take all night to do a project,” she said. “But I took up paint-by-numbers throughout medical school…that was something I did that helped me continue this, and it’s just my favorite way to relax.”

For Lewis, this is a particularly stressful time as a fourth-year medical student — at the time of the session, Match Day was just over a week away.

“This was actually really great timing for me because then I could take a break and not think about Match Day for a night,” she said. “It’s a nice distraction. It’s welcome.”

Lewis added that she hopes the participants were able to come away from the session with a sense of relaxation.

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“Hopefully anyone without an artistic background enjoyed themselves and felt that it was a low-pressure setting, a good creative outlet, and a good way to relax, and maybe (discover) that they want to take up painting in the future,” she said. “And hopefully, people who do have a little bit of artistic background really felt comfortable painting whatever they wanted to paint.”

Many participants said they left the event with that feeling.

“We had a lot going on these past few weeks and an upcoming exam,” said Nolan Shoukri, M2, secretary, Spools and Sutures. “So any chance we can get to take a quick break, relax a little bit, hang out with our friends and make some art we can take home is a good idea.”

Darshana Blaise, M2, added that it was a great opportunity to fit something creative into her schedule.

“I wanted a study break,” she said. “I love anything creative, and I feel like I don’t normally take time out of my day to do that. Whenever there’s an event like this, something artistic, I always want to come. I feel so much more relaxed than I did.”

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