Category Archives: Creative

Seeds of Change

Bassam Zahid, MSIII

A few months ago, world-renowned design firm, IDEO, released a new tool to assess the innovative capacity of companies. They compiled years of data from working with some of the biggest companies in the world and determined that great companies embody six core values:

  • Purpose – a clear, inspiring reason for a company’s existence and whether or not leadership and employees align on that vision
  • Looking Out – how often a company’s employees look beyond the walls of their institution to get ideas, insights, and inspiration
  • Experimentation – how amenable a company is to inexpensively and quickly trialing new ideas, using data to assess success or failure
  • Collaboration – how well different departments work together to bring new ideas into fruition
  • Empowerment – how much autonomy does an institution give its employees to create meaningful change
  • Refinement – how effective is the institution in executing its ideas by marrying strategy, design, and product

While different people in different department at Meharry will have varying opinions on how well our school meets these standards, the seeds of change have been planted. Two years ago, I gathered a team of students, faculty, and administrators to establish 2100 Health and Technology, a student group on campus focused on healthcare innovation. Building upon the work of students who came before us, we teamed up with Student Services, the Office of Research, and the Department of Bioinformatics to develop an app – Meharry Mobile; establish a Ted-Talk style speaker series – Start Up Symposium; and conduct various programs like coding workshops and a health app design competition.

One of 2100’s goals has been to create meaningful cultural change at Meharry. We envision Meharrians shifting from mere consumers of information to active innovators. It became vital that we establish a creative space on campus. Our work in our first year had tilled the soil with administration; we knew they trusted us. As medical schools and hospitals across the country have been building innovation centers in the past decade and we asked, why not us?

At the beginning of last semester, we pitched the idea for an innovation center to Dr. Hildreth and received the school’s blessing to establish the Meharry Innovation Center in the Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education. Sponsored by the Office of Research and Student Services, we officially opened in January 2017. Finally, a garden for creative thought! Now we needed healthy doses of sunshine, water, and equipment. Within weeks, we outfitted the center with art supplies for protoyping, decorated the walls with inspiring quotes, and began holding meetings once a week for those interested in healthcare innovation and business. The innovation center represented a major milestone for 2100, as we became the only student group on campus with our own physical space… in the newest building on campus by the way.

Over the past semester, the Meharry Innovation Center has harvested student creativity and put on a variety of programs. We began the semester with art workshops that challenged students to learn anatomy by building 3D models of the vessels in the abdomen and of the spinal tracts in the nervous system. We held events that varied from discussions on artificial intelligence to experimenting with Microsoft HoloLens to discussing design thinking principles in healthcare. Emboldened by innovations in medical education, we have even held improv comedy workshops. And in an effort to establish cross-discipline collaboration, we teamed up with the Matthew Walker Surgery Club to host a morbidity and mortality conference.

The Meharry Innovation Center represents a grand experiment that is a departure from the modus operandi traditionally seen at our school. The school gave 2100 Health and Technology space on campus to test out ideas and programs that we would like to see established on campus. We were given the freedom to fail in a controlled environment – a place to learn from our mistakes rather than be punished for them. If one of our programs was poorly executed or did not draw many participants, we viewed it as an opportunity to prune the bushes and pull the weeds.

I propose that the establishment of the Meharry Innovation Center should be held as a model for the rest of the school as we continue to fertilize our curriculum, clinics, and administration with creative thought and innovative practices. While we still have our shortcomings, the Meharry Medical College took a chance on creating the Innovation Center that incidentally checks off many of the standards established by IDEO. The Center is driven by the clear purpose of delivering healthcare innovation to the underserved. We have been active in learning about medical education innovation from established programs like JeffDesign at Jefferson Medical College, the Design Institute for Health at UT Austin, and the Vanderbilt Medical Innovation Lab. Most importantly, the Innovation Center has served as a hub for collaboration across different departments and given us the freedom to experiment with ideas that can potentially transform Meharry.

Moving forward, our work at the Meharry Innovation Center is far from over. 2100 Health and Technology is looking for new recruits to lead the next wave of innovation at our school. We are hoping to partner with different organizations and departments across campus so that the Meharry Innovation Center can move from the fringes of campus life towards the center. We envision a center that plants firm roots into the ground and extends branches to connect the students, faculty, and administration.

Now the question we must ask is, are you ready to get your hands dirty?


The Truth

Sara Nelson-Owens, MSIII

Let me tell you why I love him:


“‘Cause he is the truth, and he is so real, and I love the way that he makes me feel”

The truth

Not a fairy tale reality, but pretty brown eyes of affection and integrity, an integrity so true that I will

follow him, down the deepest, darkest and the most uncharted pathways of love, life and lust

I trust

In him the design of our relationship, as he brick and mortar lays a foundation that won’t be swayed by

earthquakes, hurricanes or waves nor bosses, friends or kids

I believe in him

See in order for him to be the The Truth, there had to be trust and with trust comes believing

Believing that


“The truth it needs no proof, either it is or it isnt”

And it is

Because faith told me and she ain’t the average girlfriend throwing salt ‘cause his life is bland, you see

faith believes in things longed for and unseen

so I carry his dreams!

And not like a burden to be laid at the alter, but an ethereal cloud

resting upon my shoulders

I vacation in the cortex his mind just be embraced by him

I reside in the corpuscles of his feet just to be carried with him

I eat, sleep and live in this man’s organs just to be surrounded by him


“You know the truth by the way it feels”

A feeling

A feeling that paints my soul with joy, that translates into a smile, a smile so commonly formed from ear

to ear just to let the world see my hearts truest reflection of him


“And if I am a reflection of him, then I must be fly, because his light it shines so bright, I would lie”

I wonder if he knows that he is…

The Truth

You are the Best

Erin Smith, MSIII

You are the BEST?
She said with a smirk
As she prepared herself to hit the dirt

The best of you is of others’ invention!
It spewed from her lips
Like unfiltered venom

You think you’re so smart
But your brain is a weakling
With knowledge borrowed from the pages of Wiki

A great taste in music
Of which you are so proud
Comes straight from that iPhone, from Siri, the Cloud!

That humor and wit
Has others rolling to and fro
Would they laugh at all if they too watched the Late Show?

Everyone says
You are a human compass
But where would you be without GPS?

Completely informed political views?
How informed must you be
To simply disagree with FOX News?

From what I recall
Your sculpted physique
Is the product of photoshop and printer ink

I say one thing of yours is truly the best
You lie and you cheat
To bamboozle the rest

Congrats on your achievement!
You’ve won this round
You’re also the best at pushing me out.


 Laeia Jackson, MSIII

This is the beginning

The rich land of kings and queens

Of pyramids and dynasties

And fertility, prosperity, eternity

In our eyes and in our blood is golden

A lineage that runs through the ages

This was our land

Tell us about their lineage

Long, everlasting, and enduring


This is the middle

Things have had time to get complicated

Our legs and hands are tied

And the sound of the whip

The crack against our back drips gold

A cold gold into the ground

That we chose to call our home

And sweat that tilled the soil

Diamonds in the hot summer sun

Tell us about our lineage

We run with barking at our backs

From the crack of the whip and a gun

Tell us about our lineage

But our race has just begun

Every eye is turned north

The source of every dream

The reason that we cry

The reason why we bleed


And this is the end

The end that never comes

A silence that speaks of dreams

The burning cross in your front yard

The end of a looped rope hanging from a tree

Here the stage is littered with bodies

The price of freedom paid

This is our land, our blood is in it

The destination that we cannot help imagining

The beginning of the end,

But only the beginning


Nathaniel Smith, MSIII

The color you were wearing when

we first met wasn’t quite purple

but neither was it blue (i

remember because your

eyes are the color of the

cloudless sky that summer)

…perhaps it was violet?

i knew a violet once.

she was pretty.

but this poem is for you,

cloudless –eyes,

not violet.


Raymond McDermott, MSIII

Lonely is driving through the city with the window down

Too late for dinner with friends, too early for the club

Lonely is voice mail and unanswered text messages

Lonely is much needed me time

that you fill with whatever you can find

gossip, BET, Jersey Shore, prayer, and affirmations

to distract you


Scientifically matter is defined as anything

having or consisting of mass

Force or weight equals mass times acceleration

Lonely is tangible, lonely is heavy, lonely has mass

lonely is matter; so by default

loneliness matters


It causes thoughts to race uncontrollably

thoughts of inadequacy

thoughts that question the need for being here

Thoughts accelerated


Weight equals mass times acceleration

Lonely equals mass, thought equals acceleration

The two multiplied together produce weight


Being lonely is a weight unto oneself

a heavy load to bare alone


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

To Be Known

Whitney Stansbury, MS IV

It begins in November, usually. Senior medical students all over the United States begin interviewing for residency positions. Our flight paths cross one another–Seattle to Miami, Boston to California, then back home again. A visible mapping of our travels would form a thick net of interconnected wishes and hopes. We hope to land ourselves into top programs of our chosen specialties. We hope to remember all the details of dozens of programs, cramming in hotel rooms before interview day. We hope to have the crispest suits and sharpest shoes. We hope for recognition. We hope to stand out. We hope to make an impression.

But where does the enjoyment and learning end and the simply performing begin? When do we stop tap dancing and start being who we are as future physicians? The question sits atop my cerebrum uncomfortably, because I’ve worked so hard….to go to residency and to work harder, of course! Well, no, that’s not quite it. I’ve had to stop and remind myself of my origins. I didn’t come to medical school to be impressive. I came to learn how to be a healer. And I imagine that it’s not much different than you. So how has the drive to be impressive shaped this interviewing season of my life? The true question is one that a wise man asked me once: “Do I want to be impressive, or do I want to be known?”

Residency interviewing season is not the time to tell people what they want to hear. It’s more akin to dating. You take the program out for a drink or for coffee and chat about what truly matters to you both, spilling out the contents of your longing hearts. Okay, perhaps it’s more like speed dating, but, still, this is a time for honesty about what matters to you. Becoming chameleons, compromising one’s true self to impress a program director in hopes of climbing the ranking charts is a regrettable act that lands students into programs that prove unsuitable and incompatible with their aspirations. Kinda like marrying a person under false pretense. Friends! This is a time to travel the United States, to have fun, and most importantly to be true to ourselves.  This is a time to be known and to get to know others.

But, in reality, how frightening is that? To be known instead of to be impressive is no feat for the faint of heart. We’ve also been striving to be impressive for almost eight years of our lives, and for many of us, longer, throwing up walls to hide behind for self-preservation. I will speak for myself when I say that performing continually is an exhausting journey–striving to do someone else’s best instead of my own. But that’s okay. There is time to take on the challenge of being who we truly are. I am confident that the challenges will prove to be a small sacrifice for the 3, 5, or 7 year marriage to whichever program you match. So from classrooms in our early years to private practices as seasoned physicians, let us all be courageous. Let us be ourselves. Let us be known.


On Days Off

Chris Salib, MS IV

He thumbs through a book of existential philosophy while doing calf-raises in front of the window of his bedroom. The sun floods the room. Yolk-yellow light on the floor warms his bare feet. He picks up the phone and calls his parents, makes sure they’ve done their morning walk. He asks them about their evening with friends, makes sure they have plans for the weekend. He kisses his wife awake in their sleep-tousled Saturday morning bed. She will make breakfast, he will take out the garbage and fix the loosened hinge on the mailbox.

In the afternoons he spends time at the park or outside a café downtown, with a notebook, people-watching, thinking of his patients that week. He daydreams, drifts in and out of himself. He loves his wife. He is reminded of Mrs J, Mrs K, Mr B and Mr Z when he sees an elderly couple sharing a cup of ice cream, walking down the busy city sidewalk. Everything is simple when there is no sickness.

He has dinner with friends. He and his wife have known the other couple for several years now. They laugh over tiny glass waxed candles. From time to time the others find him aloof, distant. He thinks about the fragility of life, how Mrs A’s cancer went into remission and the brilliance of her smile when she had heard the news, and 2 months later, how her daughter came into his office with stone-colored eyes, moist and hollowed-out, telling him how she had died in a car accident.

Regimentation, check-ups, teaching, education, patients, patience, keeping life simple, enjoying the simplicity, being adventurous and yet not destructive; the balance is painstakingly endless. There is no rest, only more or less movement. He thinks, he thinks, he rests for the night and returns to work. They say he is too serious, that he needs to relax, to enjoy life, to forget about troubling thoughts. He smiles and agrees. Yes, he must. He gazes downward and proceeds to the next patient’s room.