The Medicine & the Muse Virtual Symposium
May 14, 2022


Medicine & the Muse Annual Symposium

Saturday, May 14, 2022

This event has passed. Check back for a highlight video!

This year, Symposium featured keynote,  Dr. Emily Silverman, an internal medicine physician at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and creator of the medical storytelling live show and podcast, The Nocturnists.

The theme of this year’s Symposium was “Flames in the Night: The Joy of Storytelling.” 

Highlight video | Download program

Gallery of creative and scholarly work

Issac Bernstein | Multimedia

Med Hierarchy Storytelling

Isaac is a 1st-year medical student from Boca Raton, Florida. Isaac uses mixed digital media and artificial intelligence tools to highlight overlooked moments and concepts in medicine and surgery.

Medicine is taught through stories passed down by older physicians. A common scene in teaching hospitals has medical students huddling around their professors, eager and curious to hear the stories of a long career in doctoring. In this piece, a senior physician orates to a pack of diverse medical students. One day, the neophytes too will share their tales.

Kevin Chang | Writing


Kevin is a second year Stanford medical student originally from Port Lavaca, TX. Previously, they earned a B.A. in Cognitive Sciences from Rice University and spent time on the Orion program at NASA. Their writings are influenced by daydreams, studies in the human body and psyche, as well as childhood interests in fantasy and space.

Scion is a science fiction novel which explores the concepts of self, human identity, and genetic engineering. The story follows the experiences of Camina, a girl who lives in a dystopian future in which the Earth and surrounding star systems are ruled by a military hegemony. The narrative follows Camina as she is abducted from the Earth and sent to the Moon, where she is genetically modified and folded into the military hierarchy as a “Moonman”. The story follows her as she struggles to survive and return to Earth, focusing on the paradoxical consequence of her survival upon her human identity – each step back home is also one towards becoming less human. As Camina traverses into the realm of posthuman, she must reconcile her new form with her own ideations of humanity. Scion currently exists as a collection of five chapters and a prologue. A spin-off side story in the same universe in the form of graphic novel is currently in progress.

Mira Cheng | Writing

Dissection / Playing Around with my Scalpen

Mira is a first-year medical student and a self-proclaimed "chameleon" who feels at home on three different continents. In her free time, she loves to dance to reggaeton while cooking, read in bed, and wander aimlessly.

A short ode to e e cummings; I sought to capture and dissect some of the feelings and words that stuck with me from my first quarter in medical school. I had a lot of fun writing this piece, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Ethan A. Chi | Music

"Songs My Mother Taught Me" by Antonin Dvorak, arranged for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler.

Ethan A. Chi is a coterminal MS student in CS, BS in CS, and BA in Music studying piano with Dr. Frederick Weldy and organ with Robert Huw Morgan. In addition to interdisciplinary AI research with both the Stanford NLP Group and the Stanford School of Medicine, he also enjoys constructing artificial languages and arranging pop songs for piano.


Alexis Doyle | Writing

Illusion in Pandemic

Lexi is a third year medical student. She is passionate about reproductive health, women's health, and health policy. She enjoys spending time with her friends and being outside.

As many have recognized, the pandemic highlighted existing suffering, tensions, and injustices in our communities, country, and world. This poem is a reflection on this reality and the collateral reality of our inherent connectedness that the pandemic also brought to the fore.


Jason Gomez | Writing

Run for Your Life

Jason Gomez is an MD/MBA candidate at Stanford with a scholarly concentration in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities pursuing a career in dermatology. Outside of medicine and business, he enjoys live storytelling and performing stand-up comedy. He will spend part of his summer in New York, where he will be starting a dermatology company, performing stand up, and writing (creative work and his ERAS personal statement), before returning to Stanford to finish his clinical rotations.

The submission is a piece that chronicles my first patient loss as a clinical student.

Anna Kiesewetter | Writing

Impression, Woman (prose) & Volcanic (poem)

Anna Kiesewetter is a freshman at Stanford University studying Human Biology and Creative Writing. Her writing has been recognized as a Scholastic American Voices Medal nominee and Stanford Boothe Prize finalist, and can be found in Polyphony Lit, Blue Marble Review, Rising Phoenix Review, and elsewhere. When she's not writing, Anna plays violin in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and serves as a Research Intern for Seattle Anxiety Specialists.

This piece was my first exploration into the psychological nature of literature: how perception shapes reality, and the inextricable nature of physical and mental health. As someone with severe nearsightedness--a prescription of -10--I have recently been contemplating the safety and comfort I associate with my blurred vision. I only really experience blurred vision in environments of safety, such as in my bed or in the shower, while putting on my contacts or glasses makes me hyperaware of insecurities and imperfections, especially pertaining to my own reflection. The parallels between anxiety and how vision impacts one's reality intrigued me, leading to the creation of this semi-autobiographical short story that places its reader into a new perception of reality.

This short poem centers on an episode of dermatillomania. I wrote this piece to emphasize the paradoxical calamitous yet everyday nature of body-focused repetitive behaviors, as a way to shed light on a seldom-discussed mental health condition. Because the various triggers are often unconscious and unpredictable, I left the impetus for this episode ambiguous; that feels most true to my own experiences with dermatillomania.


Rachel Landau | Writing

Life After Color

Rachel Landau is a master's student at the Stanford Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES). Before coming to Stanford, she studied literary arts at Brown University. She loves, loves, loves coffee.

The essay concerns Goethe's theory of colors and the relationship between vision and mental illness, drawing on my own experiences as well as some studies I've read as part of my research on color theory.

Stephen Marcott | Music

Who’s Gonna Take You Home?

Stephen is a fifth-year Stanford medical student starting anesthesiology residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital this June. He also write songs!

Divya Mehrish | Writing

Ulcerative Colitis, diseased, her name is Anemia, A Battlefield of Marrow

A Pushcart Prize nominee, Divya Mehrish is a freshman at Stanford University who has received top honors at the National Poetry Competition, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, and Scholastic Writing Awards. Her writing appears in PANK, Sojourners, Palette Poetry, Broken Pencil, and Amtrak’s magazine The National, among others.

Jodie Meng | Writing

nai nai

Jodie is a sophomore at Stanford majoring in Biomedical Computation. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories.

This submission is a reflection of my grandmother's endurance while battling pancreatic cancer.

Vongai Mlambo | Writing

Joyride, Keyboard

Vongai Mlambo is a second year medical student at Stanford Medicine who dabbles in short stories and novels to make sense of the world inside and beyond the hospital. She calls Zimbabwe and South Africa home and her writing reflects her undulating nostalgia.

My submission is two poems. The first is called Joyride and acts as a creative conduit for some of my reflections when my grandfather passed away. The second is Backspace which provides a portrait of relatable moments of vulnerability I have had in my life.

Francesca Noelette | Writing

How did you get here?

Francesca is a second year medical student from Acworth, GA. They enjoy crafting, traveling, reading, and of course, writing. 

Mina Phipps | Drawing

Dark Skin Representation in Medical Diagrams and Health Disparities in People of Color (placards) 

Mina is currently a freshmen majoring in sociology and interested in a career in medicine. They love working in the intersection of art and medicine to create positive tangible change, whether that be through drawing medical diagrams or medical education on social media.

I have drawn a series of medical diagrams with dark skin in order to address and bring awareness to the lack of representation and diversity in medical education and the importance of the social determinants of health.  

Jessica Pullen | Videography

A Day in the Life

Jessica Pullen is a medical student in the combined MD/MS (E-IPER) Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program. Jessica is passionate about medical humanities/ethics, sustainability, and advocacy for marginalized groups.

On the path to becoming future medical providers, it can be far too easy to lose sight of the humanistic elements of medicine, lost under the myriad of disease/facts/medications to remember. An unintended consequence of this can be an over-focus on the medical elements of disease and a loss of appreciation for the first-hand experience and perspectives of the patients whom we treat. This video was created during my participation in "The Empathy Project" through which we were paired with a patient and conducted a series of interviews with them and their family members. Their voices were then synthesized and edited into this video, attempting to show a picture of illness, centered through the direct experience of a patient and their family.  Our hope is that through this visual storytelling approach, we can help future providers to build increased empathy for the experience of their patients.

Sarah Rockwood | Writing

If you frame it in this certain way

Sarah is a first year MSTP student here at Stanford who is interested in combining stem cell biology and disease modeling, genetic editing and therapy with pediatrics or neonatology. She attended UC Berkeley (Go Bears! and Cardinals!), where she studied molecular neurobiology, and then worked in stem cell engineering for two years at Gladstone/UCSF. Apart from academics, she is an avid runner (preferably trail), cyclist (preferably mountain), backpacker, creative writer, voracious reader, and lover of learning new languages and recipes!

Sophi Scarnewman | Writing

Scalpel, Please

Sophi Scarnewman grew up in Sunnyvale, CA and attended Stanford for undergrad ('13) before returning to attend the Master's in Physician Assistant Studies program at the School of Medicine ('24). After trying out at least five careers, she is thrilled to be settled on her true path in medicine. She lives in Los Altos with her husband Bobby, their 5-year-old son Donato, and their trusty chihuahua Zoë.


Brian Smith | Sculpture


Brian Smith is a first-year medical student at Stanford. Before med school, he was an oncology scribe who relied on the medical humanities to find reflection and healing. The main medium he uses is writing and he is excited to dabble in the visual arts for MedMuse 2022!

As I wind the string between nails it will create the pattern of the doctors. The strings are meant to echo the ideas of contact tracing and interconnectedness, as well as underscore the idea of connections between our past and present.

Jennifer Soh | Writing

Halaboji and The Ugly Tumor

Jennifer is a a third-year bioengineering major at Stanford, hoping to pursue a career in medicine. They am most interested in health equity and using narrative medicine to bring individual patient stories to the forefront of the health care system in the US.

"Halaboji and The Ugly Tumor" illustrates a narrator's experience watching their Korean grandfather battle gastric cancer in the United States. Through a series of snapshots before, during, and after the grandfather's diagnosis, this short story hopes to raise awareness for the reality of gastric cancer that a disproportionate number of East Asian patients in the United States face.


Neil Wary | Music

"Songs My Mother Taught Me" by Antonin Dvorak, arranged for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler.

Neil Wary is a coterminal student pursuing a bachelor's in Human Biology, master's in Epidemiology and Clinical Research, and a minor in Music. Besides playing the violin in Dr. Joo-Mee Lee's studio and in Stanford's Orchestras, he conducted research in the Cardiovascular Institute and managed Stanford Medicine's Cardinal Free Clinics.

Caroline Yao | Writing


Caroline is a first-year medical student who has always believed in using the power of story-telling to make an impact. They love celebrating each individual's unique stories. 

This short prose piece is written from the perspective of a patient with Bullous Pemphigoid. This piece is inspired by a patient I encountered during one of my clinical experiences. Her openness, cheerfulness, and sweet demeanor made a lasting impression on me. Through listening to her story, I learned what truly mattered to her in amazing patient care, and wanted to capture that, along with Bullous Pemphigoid as a condition, in this short prose piece. Parts of the prose are fictionalized for the flow of the story.