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TCTMD: Heart Sounds Podcast—Creativity and Cardiovascular Surgery

The Cardiovascular Research Foundation’s TCTMD podcast “Heart Sounds” recently featured Joanna Chikwe, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute, discussing the importance of carving out time for creative pursuits.

Chikwe, the editor-in-chief of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and a published artist and musician, told Shelley Wood, host of “Heart Sounds,” that she decided to become a surgeon at age 6, even though art came more naturally to her.

“I wasn’t a natural scientist,” Chikwe told Wood. “I always loved painting … I read voraciously.”

Chikwe, the Irina and George Schaeffer Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Surgery, told Wood that she had a life-changing year studying art history in Florence, Italy, before medical school but has since devoted all of her time to her career. Recently she realized that she wanted to rekindle her love of music and art, so she started drawing again and bought a piano.

“It’s like flexing a different muscle,” Chikwe told Wood. “I think it’s really important in life to find a creative, expressive outlet. That’s really special time where you’re creating an internal world at your own pace.

“And I think it’s fascinating that as we go through life, some of the things that we’re passionate about as children and adolescents disappear off the radar.”

She added that people shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.

“All I could say is, there’s no harm in trying—it’s absolutely not lost time,” Chikwe told Wood. “And all you need [are] a few early wins. That’s usually enough to light the fire.”

Click here to listen to the complete podcast from TCTMD.