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Annual Session: Showcasing internists' artistic talents

The College is soliciting exhibit entries from physicians who are about a lot more than practicing medicine

From the January-February ACP Observer, copyright © 2005 by the American College of Physicians.

By Deborah Gesensway

Internists may be known traditionally as the "doctor's doctor," rigorously scientific to the core, but most internists are about much more than just medicine.

Take, for instance, Jeffrey P. Harris, FACP, Immediate Past Chair of the College's Board of Governors. By day, Dr. Harris is a well-respected nephrologist in Winchester, Va. But at night, he is often in his basement darkroom, touching up his own black-and-white photographic portraits and landscapes.


Nephrologist Jeffrey P. Harris, FACP, finds that photography provides "a wonderful sense of accomplishment."




"With medicine, as with most professions, there are substantial stresses," Dr. Harris said. "To have a hobby is important. Artistic endeavors can be a pleasurable outlet and a way of dealing with stress. They also give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment."

Embracing that sentiment, the College will salute internists' artistic accomplishments by debuting an "Internists as Artists" program at this year's Annual Session in San Francisco. ACP is expanding a program that Dr. Harris and fellow members of the Virginia chapter established several years ago, setting up a first-of-its kind art gallery in the Exhibit Hall of San Francisco's Moscone Center where Annual Session is being held.

Physicians attending Annual Session are invited to submit work to be considered for the exhibit. Submissions can include, but are not limited to, painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, woodworking, jewelry, crafts and ceramics.

An ad hoc jury will review submissions and select 52 pieces to include in the exhibit. The deadline for submitting work to be considered is Feb. 11. (See "Wanted: physician artists.")

The jury will consist of internists who have prominent roles within the College, as well as well-honed artistic talents of their own. Judges include Board of Regents Chair Eric B. Larson, FACP, a pianist; Annals of Internal Medicine Editor Harold C. Sox, MACP, a photographer; Regent and Editor of ACP Medicine, David C. Dale, FACP, a woodworker; and Edward D. Harris Jr., FACP, Governor for the Northern California Chapter, who plays an upright acoustic bass.

'Common ground'

Another physician who will be involved with the exhibit at Annual Session is Dugan W. Maddux, FACP, a nephrologist and Virginia Chapter member who for three years chaired the chapter's "Internists as Artists" program at its annual banquet. A short story author, Dr. Maddux has read her stories on National Public Radio.

Unlike the exhibit at Annual Session, the Virginia Chapter's program has been able to feature performance art, Dr. Maddux said. One year, a resident who was a classical pianist played, while another resident danced a program from her native India.

"I was amazed how much talent there was," Dr. Maddux said. It reminded physicians that they should not let go of other interests in their lives."

Art also serves another purpose, she pointed out. "We had older physicians, middle-career people and residents all participating," Dr. Maddux said. "It helps physicians at very different parts of their lives and careers find common ground."

Virginia's Dr. Harris said he is considering submitting one of his photographs for the Annual Session exhibit. He particularly enjoys taking candid shots of individuals.

"As an internist, I spend my days watching people talk." he said. "I love to record all the wonderful detail that makes up a human face."

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Wanted: physician artists

To have work considered for the "Internists as Artists" exhibit at this year's Annual Session, submit an application and a photograph or electronic image of your artwork (a maximum of two entries will be considered from each physician) by Feb. 11. An application form and more information about the "Internists as Artists" program are online.

Exhibitors selected will be notified by March 2 and must have their submission to the ACP Staff Office at the Moscone Center by 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 13. Artwork will remain on view until 2 p.m., Saturday, April 16.

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