Dr. Kari Visscher has combined her passion for art and imaging to create a unique educational tool

Using art to educate patients and physicians

Kari Visscher, MD, cannot remember a time when she was not passionate about art. As a resident, at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, completing her radiology training, she found a way to combine her passion with her career – all while demystifying the often times misunderstood world of imaging.

The radiologist-artist has been creating photo-realistic oil paintings that depict in intimate detail the nuances of her daily life as a radiologist for educational purposes.

The idea for this project came during residency when she noticed a lack of understanding among many patients and colleagues about what radiologists do on a daily basis.

“One of the gaps I noticed was that my patients and colleagues have a limited understanding of how radiology fits into the health care team,” explained Dr. Visscher. “I want to use this skillset to reduce some of that gap because it’s a big gap and some of the radiology societies are finding it difficult to bridge”.

Dr. Visscher’s work has been well received by the radiology community. Her painting titled The Interventional Radiology Consultation was voted into the top 20 of the 2016 international art competition hosted by the Radiological Society of North America. Her colleagues at the American College of Radiologists were so thrilled with her paintings that she has been invited to take her work to the Education Committee for further development as an educational tool.

Her work has resonated with radiologists on a personal level: “I got a beautiful email from a radiologist thanking me for doing this work and for being a voice for radiologists,” said the artist. “It reinforced that my work expresses how many of us feel and that it’s so hard to tell our patients how we feel. That was very touching”.

Dr. Visscher is also successful painting subject matter outside of radiology. Her painting entitled Orange Flowers Num. 1 is featured as the April artwork in the Commitment to the Community 2017 Pictorial Calendar, which highlights the artistic talents of the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry community. And her painting titled Engineering Bubbles took the top prize at the American Roentgen Ray Society Art Forum in 2016.

In the coming year, Dr. Visscher plans to complete the set of 12 oil paintings for this project, host a public showing of her work and start building a website. She is also looking forward to starting another art project that depicts the realities of being a residency physician to help educate young students as they begin to face the challenges of residency life.

Dr. Visscher is now completing her fellowship training in musculoskeletal radiology at the University of Ottawa. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and refining her skill with water colour painting.

To follow Dr. Visscher’s progress visit her on Instagram at @karivisscher (https://www.instagram.com/karivisscher/)