Attending medical school comes with intense demands, but successful trainees and clinicians can decompress through outlets outside the primary curriculum. In fact, numerous studies have revealed how creative expression helps medical students stay focused without becoming overwhelmed.
That's why Neil H. Parker, MD, a dean and longtime faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM), wanted to give his students and colleagues a creative outlet. In 1998, he founded The UCLA Beat, a journal of literary and artistic expression for the UCLA health science community.
"Dr. Parker has been the one constant year after year," says Dr. Christina Harview (DGSOM class of 2018), a former Beat editor. "He's the heart and soul of The Beat."
Published each spring since 1999, The Beat is a mainstay of UCLA culture. Students serve as the magazine’s editors-in-chief. Second-year medical students (MS2s) fill these roles, as MS1s have not yet learned the campus ropes and MS3s and MS4s are engrossed in clinical preparation.
Editors recruit classmates and oversee the committees that review entries. After the students select the content, they collaborate on layouts, blending literary and visual elements.
Before becoming a Beat editor, Dr. Harview had her own work in volume sixteen. "When I heard about the call for editors, I thought the role would be a fun way to come full circle," she says. "I'm really excited about creating a positive outlet for others."
The Beat represents all strata of health sciences at UCLA. Dr. Harview remembers receiving an impressive array of submissions, “from department heads to staff members to students.”
Dr. Harview believes The Beat’s blind submissions fortify the magazine’s commitment to open representation; editors and committees review submissions without names or titles to base selections on artistic merit alone. This anonymity results in a rich, bias-free final product.
Dr. Harview’s experiences at The Beat absolutely solidified her assumption that most students realize they need a creative outlet to balance medical school stress. She especially loved discovering what The Beat’s contributors considered the biggest and most important issues in their own lives.
"Creativity is a great way to express yourself, but it's also a way to process a difficult situation or understand the human condition,” she says.
By Darcy Lewis