MD Student Artwork Featured on the Cover of Academic Medicine

Sunrise by WSU MD student Kyanna Cusick

Artwork by a recent College of Medicine graduate is featured on the June cover of Academic Medicine magazine. Kyanna Cusick earned her Doctor of Medicine from the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in May and is currently in the process of moving to the Phoenix area to begin her residency in diagnostic radiology. But even with a busy medical school schedule, Cusick always found time for art.

Cusick painted oil on canvas for her submission to the magazine. Called “Sunrise,” the painting draws from her own experience. It depicts a medical student entering health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The student, mask in hand, arrives at sunrise to start her new career. Cusick was purposeful in displaying hope and excitement for the future, but also the limitations the incoming class faced in the fall of 2020.

Cusick explains the conflicting feelings in her artist’s statement, also published in the magazine:

My painting “Sunrise,” on the cover of this issue, depicts the experience that I suspect many students and health professions trainees shared during the COVID-19 pandemic. I entered medical school in fall 2020 when all learning had transitioned to a virtual format. The sunrise represents the beginning of my career in medicine—full of anticipation for what was next and what I would learn. I completed “Sunrise” in oil on canvas board because I felt it could bring out the luminescent quality of the piece. The building signifies my school, but it could be a hospital or any building where learners were kept out during the pandemic. Although the lights are on in this building, and the teaching of medicine and patient care are happening, a new student like me was not able to enter or be helpful yet. The learner, who is facing away from the viewer and could therefore represent anyone, is looking up at the building where she is headed, holding schoolbooks while a mask dangles from her hand. My aim was to capture both the feeling of helplessness that new trainees can experience, along with the feeling of hope when they look toward where they are heading.

Kyanna Cusick, MD

Cusick grew up in Alaska and northeastern Washington. She says art has always been a part of her life and something she still finds time for during her medical training. This summer she will start the next phase of her training as a diagnostic radiology resident at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

“Radiology has always been exciting to me because of the imaging part of it,” Cusick says of the parallel between radiology and art. “You look at something and analyze it.”

After residency, Cusick says she is excited to eventually return to Washington to practice diagnostic radiology and hopes to be part of the College of Medicine as faculty one day.