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Creighton painting professor takes on new role at the medical school teaching medical humanities

Medical humanities is a new program at the school
Posted at 6:14 PM, Sep 17, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Medical humanities is something taught to medical students so they learn to understand patients more holistically. One Creighton University professor is taking an artistic and personal approach to her lessons.

Rachel Mindrup has been painting her whole life. It was her calling. But after her son was diagnosed with a genetic disorder before he even turned one, her calling changed.

“He’s got an optic tumor and he’s got about four tumors on his brain now," Mindrup said.

Her son Henry Mindrup has NF, or Neurofibromatosis. It's a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow all over the body. To help deal with all the complications that come with that, Mindrup did what she knows how to do best.

“I didn’t really set out to start painting portraits of people with the some genetic disorder, I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do," she said.

One in 3,000 people are affected by NF, but Rachel says no one knows about it. So, she began her series of portraits called "The Many Faces of Neurofibromatosis" to raise awareness.

Now, the painting professor is taking on a new role at the medical school to bring together the arts and medicine with medical humanities.

“So the med students are going to be drawing and observing and actually asking themselves do they trust their eyes or are they just always going to go with what’s on the patient chart," Mindrup asked.

Rachel says NF is different in each person. She wants to teach the medical students at Creighton to look past the patient chart with not only this disorder but all types of cases.

“Kind of caring for the whole person and also thinking more holistically. Where does this person come from? What are the background experiences? Are they scared right now? What do they need from me? And it might not always just be an in an out, six minutes, here’s a prescription, see you later," she said.

This is the first role of its kind at Creighton's newly formed Department of Medical Humanities at the medical school.