Blood and Thunder Journal Connects Students
to the Art of Medicine

By April Wilkerson 
Writer, OU College of Medicine

During their four years of medical education, students’ intellects are challenged as they learn the science and clinical skills required for their profession.

But the OU College of Medicine also believes the humanities play a role in shaping future physicians. Each year, a group of medical students publishes the humanities journal Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine.

“Axial,” a painting by OU College of Medicine student Kelsey McGinnis, was chosen for the cover of the 2016 Blood and Thunder humanities journal.

The 2016 Blood and Thunder is the 16th edition. Editor-in-Chief Katie Mailey, a member of the Class of 2017, shepherded the project from the solicitation of submissions to the journal’s design to its distribution. Juggling the project in addition to medical studies and rotations is significant, she said, but students find themselves transformed by the experience.

Blood and Thunder has served as a bridge to humanistic side of medicine, and it has woven into a dynamic expression the impact of illness from both the physician and patient’s perspective,” Mailey said.

Each year, the journal receives, on average, 150 poems, 50 short stories and 20 visual art pieces to be considered for submission. Submissions come from across the world and each speaks to the medical humanities. Some pieces are produced by patients exploring their illness and suffering. Others come from medical providers and caregivers expressing their gratitude, wonder, sorrow, grief, frustration or regret. Others represent the expression of medical students as they explore their chosen profession.

Katie Mailey, editor-in-chief of the 2016 edition of "Blood and Thunder", speaks during the unveiling ceremony.

M. Dewayne Andrews, M.D., executive dean of the College of Medicine, has supported Blood and Thunder since its inception and has seen its effect on students who are learning to become physicians. Medicine is a healing profession, and part of healing is to know yourself and to seek a greater understanding of humanity, Andrews said. “As students come into medical school, they are swiftly immersed in the language of science and medicine,” Andrews wrote in his introduction to the 2016 edition.

“It can be easy to get caught up in acquiring facts, knowledge and clinical skills. Humanities help students become more culturally sensitive, and humanities help students learn about the joys and tragedies of the human experience, about aspects of suffering and dying, and about personal interactions and professionalism. The humanities expand their horizons and help sensitize students to the fundamental personal, family, ethical and social issues confronting the modern physician.”

To learn more about Blood and Thunder, visit