Introducing the soon-to-be-named A Cappella Group

While singing in the hospital this past December, the Music and Medicine crew met a family whose son was recovering from his second surgery for brain cancer. They asked if our medical school a cappella group could sing in May after the Race for Hope, an annual brain cancer fundraising walk.

The only problem was, we weren’t an a cappella group. However, without hesitation we agreed, and with six months and some very talented musicians, we went to work to make it happen! 

On May 7th, we had the privilege of singing at the after-race party for Team Willie Strong, a team of family and friends who this year raised $49,030.64!!!! 

The a cappella group, who are currently in a heated debate over what to name the group, have since performed at the Cadaver Donor Mass and at Iona Senior Services. We’re looking forward to more performances this year!

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Obituaries Breathe Life into Anatomy Lab

Arts and Medicine created a new Obituary Writing Program this year for first year medical students to reflect on their time in anatomy lab and the donors who generously gave their bodies to Georgetown for our medical education. First, students partook in an obituary writing workshop with obituary writer Emily Langer of The Washington Post. During the workshop, they worked through a variety of creative writing exercises to imagine fictional lives for their donors that would aid them in writing an actual obituary. Then, a few students elected to interview the family members of some of the donors and write tributes to them to read at the memorial mass commemorating the end of anatomy lab. The entire program was a huge success, and the families of the donors were incredibly thankful to the students for writing such thoughtful and beautiful obituaries for their loved ones who were honored at the mass. The students were able to reflect on their donors not just as their first patients, but also as human beings. Below is one of the completed obituaries written by an Arts & Medicine member for one of the donors.


An Obituary for Dr. Carol E. Kennedy

by Bethany Kette

Each day in anatomy lab this year, we were joined by our instructors who taught and guided us through each physiologic system, sharing with us the knowledge that is integral to our medical education. In their starched white coats, each embroidered with ‘Dr. So-and-So’ in neat script, we addressed them by name, asking for their help when we were unsure of our next steps. But there was another doctor among us each day in those rooms, who did not wear her white coat and whose name we did not know. One who had stood in our exact footsteps in 1968, and came back to be our most selfless teacher of all.

Dr. Carol E. Kennedy, artist, physician, and graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, passed away in December of 2015 at the age of 77 in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Kennedy was born in a small farm town in Wisconsin and spent her childhood in Washington, She eventually completed her pharmacy degree at Washington State University, where she met and married her husband Andrew, and had her first son, Andy. When their family moved to Virginia, Dr. Kennedy decided to forgo her career as a pharmacist and began medical school at Georgetown. She had her second son, Jim, during her fourth year of school and graduated with the class of 1972.

She became an internist at Fairfax Hospital—one of very few female physicians there at the time. Her close friend and colleague Dr. Grundlehner said that “medical school was not a very easy place for women” when they attended. There may have only been two women’s restrooms in a 10 floor building, but Dr. Kennedy never complained because she always considered it a privilege to be a physician.

She was a deeply religious woman and continued to serve others through her church long after she retired from medicine. In addition to devoting time to reading for her three book clubs, coaxing plants from the earth in her garden, and riding horses, Dr. Kennedy chose to retire early so that she could finally pursue her artistic talent. A friend described her as a formidable artist who had had no opportunity for formal training while she was a physician, but Dr. Kennedy soon remedied that when she went on to study at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Multiple art shows exhibited her work—beautiful depictions of vibrant orange lilies and muted purple orchids that I wonder if she painted directly from her own garden. 

Despite her many accomplishments in life, her son Jim noted that above all else Dr. Kennedy was fiercely proud of graduating from Georgetown—and it was a pride that never faded. I knew that fact to be true when he also mentioned that she remained a loyal patron of The Tombs and often brought her family there along with her. Her love of Georgetown is why she wanted to come back here one last time and continue serving others just as she did her entire life. 

A painting by Dr. Carol E. Kennedy

A painting by Dr. Carol E. Kennedy

To read the GUMC press release on the workshop and learn more about the reason for creating this program, please click here

If you are interested in learning more about Georgetown School of Medicine's Anatomical Donor Program, please click here

Victor Wang: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS UPHOLDING PATIENT SAFETY & QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

The white coat is a reminder for the practitioner and the patient that we share a common goal, to improve the patient's state of being. We as future physicians have an obligation to uphold patient safety, not as a priority that can be shifted, but a core value that forever remains in place. We have a duty to continually improve the quality of our service and interactions with the community we serve. Physicians have the power to make change, but we must see our patients as fellow human individuals. We must work together to uphold the trust of the people, advocate for their rights and needs, educate the masses, advance our best practices, and return the ill to a state of wellness to the best of our abilities.

-Victor Wang, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Sarah Schuessler: "My White Coat Means"

A COMMITMENT TO SERVE THE UNDERSERVED

My medical education is, without a doubt, the most tremendous gift I have ever received. Every time I put on this white coat, I am reminded of how privileged I am to be where I am, and the responsibilities that accompany this privilege. On the day I received this coat and first took the Hippocratic Oath, I also made a commitment to share this gift with those who need it most. This skill set I am learning can potentially improve the lives of so many for whom healthcare is still, tragically, inaccessible. When I eventually swap out this coat for a longer one, I will carry this commitment to serve the underserved through my entire career.

-Sarah Schuessler, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Thomas Bigham: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS LIFE LONG COMMITMENT TO THOSE IN NEED

I have been blessed with two role models who have exemplified selfless commitment to those in need. Everyday, I am thankful for having two parents who have worked tirelessly to help others. Growing up, I watched my father embody cura personalis as he spent long hours caring for and tending to the needs of his patients. Likewise, I witnessed my mother volunteer her time for the past twenty years as a full time elementary school teacher instilling the love of reading into her students all without pay. My parents' work ethic and passion to selflessly care for others has inspired me. Every time I wear my white coat, I wish to honor my parents and pay forward the blessings that I have been given. I look forward to a life of service to others where I can help those who truly are in need.

-Thomas Bigham, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

John Guzzi: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS BEING THERE

Every day, our careers will intersect with the lives of others at their most vulnerable moments. Vulnerability is a virtue -- we can never let those moments feel small. The most important acts of healing are driven by being present. My white coat is a reminder that once that door is closed, my #1 priority is to be there alongside my patients, wherever that may be.

-John Guzzi, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Matt Coster: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS FIGHTING FOR EQUITY

Many Americans have access to one of the greatest systems of healthcare in the world, and are able to take advantage of the latest technology and therapies, while some have limited access to care due to the unequal distribution of the social determinants of health. I want to give back, and serve those who are underserved, but I also want to be a part of the change that eliminates the health inequities present in this country, because neither where you’re from, nor the color of your skin, nor your gender, nor your sexual orientation should define your life expectancy. I hope to improve the health of my patients and my community through primary care, advocacy, and community-based interventions.

-Matt Coster, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Khaled Kabbara: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS JUSTICE

This white coat has been a catalyst for me to reflect on the blessings and privilege to be in this profession. I learned that with this white coat comes a sacred oath to fulfill the sacred trust bestowed on us by society. To me, being accepted by this white coat, I in return accept to commit to fight for the justice that my patients, all communities and societies, and all those who are vulnerable deserve. Healing does not stop at the physical well being, but transcends to include economical, social, spiritual, emotional and all elements of life. It is truly humbling for me. 

-Khaled Kabbara, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Dylan Conroy: "My White Coat Means"

MY WHITE COAT MEANS MAGIS

The Jesuit principle of “magis” means "more," and I have adopted this mantra as motivation to to do better and be better in all aspects of my life. Patients need more than a five minute question-and-answer barrage, more than a pre-op visit emphasizing technicality over humanity. As a prospective surgeon, I aim to spend as much time discussing my patients' weekends as I do their upcoming procedures. I want to know them as more than a left knee replacement or appendectomy, to know their lives as mothers and fathers and children. Magis will guide me through late night shifts and challenging cases, pushing me to always do more for every patient. 

-Dylan Conroy, MD Candidate, Class of 2019

Nazifa Rahman: My White Coat Means

MY WHITE COAT MEANS HUMILITY

My white coat is a humble reminder to me first and foremost of the responsibility I carry to serve and care for my future patients. It is an emblem of dedication, hard-work, and commitment. My white coat also gives me a greater sense of purpose. Medicine is about understanding and listening to other human beings just as much as it is about the study of human bodies.  A medical school student just starting out in her career in medicine, when I put on my white coat, the newness of it gives me a paradoxical feeling of both pride and humility. From my 4th grade elementary school teacher who encouraged my love of learning to my college mentors to my most beloved supporters, my parents, I’m humbled by all of these role models who shaped who I am and allowed me the opportunity to contemplate what this white coat means.  I hope to wear this humility and gratitude throughout my journey in medicine.

-Nazifa Rahman, MD Candidate, Class of 2019