About the Artist:
My name is Katelyn Hanson, and I live in Portsmouth, NH. After high school I moved to New Orleans where I went to Tulane University and double-majored in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Spanish. I then moved back to New England for medical school, where I found a way to combine my love of bright colors and art with my love of science and the human body. Thanks for checking out my work and for following me along my journey towards becoming a doctor!
My dad is an architect who specializes in healthcare and designing hospitals. My mom is a social worker for people at the end of life signing onto hospice. My grandmother was an emergency room nurse. I’m the first doctor in my family, but definitely not the first to have medicine shape my career. I feel so lucky to have loving parents & family who nurtured, inspired, and constantly supported my dream of one day becoming a doctor.
From my own experiences in medical school, and the similar struggles I witnessed in my med school peers, I can safely say that the journey to becoming a doctor is not easy. Going through pre-med, forcing myself to study and cram information about the seemingly infinite complexities of anatomy & biology & chemistry, was a grind. There were many nights I spent alone in the library instead of going out with friends, all in the hopes of being smart enough to gain entrance into medical school. I spent those four pre-med years in New Orleans, LA, now one of my forever homes, and it influenced the type of learner I'd become more than I could have ever known.
Everything in New Orleans feels elevated. There's a joie de vie that's indescribable and you can love everything so intensely. The Jazz, the art, the culture, the food, the people, I loved it all so much and felt like the atmosphere created more of me to spread elsewhere. So among the beautiful chaos of doing undergrad in NOLA, the dream of becoming a doctor burned in my frontal lobe.
That paints New Orleans in a magical light, which it definitely deserves, but with so many awesome places to focus one's energy, it's easy to tire out and resort to an easier path. But no matter how tired or how studied out I felt, I kept the anatomy & biology & chemistry & science(!) books open and studied on.
And I made it to med school! Holy shit!
Holy shit. I made it to med school.
What did I get myself in to?
I got myself in to paying over $300,000 for 4 years of being around some of the smartest people I have ever met. 4 years of studying - mastering - almost all there is to know about the human body. How it's built, how it develops and decays, the way it functions, the connections between bones, muscles, organs, and the intricate pathways that unite them all. I signed up to fully understand how the body keeps itself alive, the endless number of things in this world that can kill it, how to keep the latter from happening to the former, and what to do if the the two face off and sickness or injury or disease present themselves.
I signed up to be totally overwhelmed by the vast amount of knowledge I needed to learn, comprehend, and recite at a moment's notice. I signed up to, at first, completely doubt my entire existence and wonder how I even made it to med school in the first place, and question my ability to be good enough or smart enough or hard-working enough to actually learn everything that is essential to learn.
And at first, it appeared I would not be able to get through med school because first year consisted of long, drawn out, auditory lectures. I've never been good at sitting still for long, and I tend to zone out if I'm not interacting with what’s in front of me. My brain finds its own ways to keep itself occupied, which rarely involves paying attention to what is being taught in front of me.
At first, I struggled to stay motivated to study. I felt almost defeated by the abundance of knowledge that's needed to become a doctor.
Then I realized one thing that is invaluable to know. Whether in med school or any other school, whether you study anatomy or law or business or whatever, it is crucial to know that we all learn in different ways. I needed to focus on what works best for me. So I turned studying medicine & the human anatomy into something I could truly enjoy.
At first, it started as doodles of medical concepts or human anatomy during lectures. The doodles in lecture then turned into self-assigned homework of drawing notes & anatomy study guides that combined knowledge from many anatomy & medical textbooks.
And then it seemed like I wasn't struggling at all. The human body became alive and I started to exclusively draw my notes and write in big, bright, beautiful colors. And while studying medicine in the cold of New England, I infused med school with that bright joie de vie I found in New Orleans.
And Hanson's Anatomy, in retrospect, was born.
I started to share my notes on instagram, just for the heck of it. To my surprise, more and more people started to study along with me and appreciate my (sm)artwork style interpretation of medicine.
It's hard to describe the feeling when people kindly share that they appreciate my blend of science and art. All I can say is it feels pretty damn good, and it motivated me to keep posting my work and creating more unique med school notes and study guides. And the more I shared, the bigger this study group became. And my artistic interpretations of human anatomy evolved in lockstep while I held on to the dream of becoming an emergency room physician.
I am living proof that hard work focused towards a clear goal yields results.
Me now sincerely appreciates the pre-med me who stuck it out and sacrificed so much time and effort in the hopes of someday becoming Dr. Hanson. And me now thanks the me at the beginning of med school who stuck with it and simply believed I could get there.
There is still road left to travel before I become the doctor I want to be and practice medicine on my own. Any journey in life is never complete until it is. And with whatever time I've been blessed with, I will continue to #neverstoplearning, because as I say with each instagram post, #knowledgeispower.