issue Spring 2022

Art of Knowledge

By Sabreen Alfadel

Art can be found in all areas of life, including nature and science. In fact, student nurse anesthetist Amy Avila, CHP ’22, considers the practice of anesthesia to be both a science and an art. Using her artistic abilities, she has also managed to make that connection through her anatomy drawings, resulting in a stress-relieving solution and learning tool for her vigorous lifestyle as a student in the College of Health Professions’ Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

When I would come to testing or even out in the real world, I could close my eyes and see that picture I drew, which was easier for me to recall.

Mrs. Avila has loved art in all its forms since she was a kid, but after graduating nursing school in 1992, she found herself busily involved with the gamut of nursing — practicing and gaining experience in areas ranging from newborn ICU, adult ICU and pediatrics. It wasn’t until she started working night shifts that she started drawing again.

"A lot of people in the middle of the night will read or look something up online to try to keep from being sleepy when you’re in the middle of your shift. I started doodling and drawing, and it started from there,” she said. “I remember being in a room taking care of a patient, and I just started drawing on my report sheet. By the morning, I had filled up the report sheet, and I thought, ‘Huh, this is kind of cool.’”

Mrs. Avila’s interest in drawing not only helped her unwind, but quickly helped her understand anatomy, and implement that knowledge, during her first semester of learning gross anatomy. “There’s a book they told us to read before we started school — ‘Make It Stick.’ One of the theories that they propose is manipulation of the information,” she recalled. “You manipulate information, and that will make you learn it and store it differently, because you trigger different pathways. When I would come to testing or even out in the real world, I could close my eyes and see that picture I drew, which was easier for me to recall.”

There are innumerable ways to provide anesthesia, various drug combinations, airway skills and abilities to provide the mix that’s just perfect for each patient. As Mrs. Avila advances in her career, she understands that art is inevitable in every process of a scientific craft.

“The art of it is when the drapes come down, your patient wakes up, you take the tube out — that’s perfect. Anybody can follow the recipe, but the ability to alter the recipe so that it’s perfect for that one person is almost artistic,” she explained. “Anesthesia can be done with a cooker-cutter recipe, or you can do really good anesthesia. That’s art.”

Sabreen Alfadel is a staff writer with the RFU Division of Marketing and Brand Management, specializing in content development for social media efforts and initiatives.