Janice Park’s Story


When Janice Park began her first year of medical school, she had no idea she would end up making two educational films before she graduated.  One is now shown each year to incoming medical students in their early orientation program, Cells to Society, which uses diabetes as a model to weave a story from science, culture and policy to the patient.

In this video, Janice and her classmate, Andrew Legan, tell the story of the history of insulin.  “Type 1 diabetes,” Janice explains, “was more or less a death sentence for children and young teens.  Before the use of insulin was discovered, parents had to basically starve their children to keep their blood sugars down—and they just wasted away.”  The video, she hopes, helps students see the connection between what they will learn in biochemistry and how it affects patients.  It also gives a glimpse into the world of research ethics, as it reveals the infighting among early insulin researchers.

As graduation nears, Janice is putting the finishing touches on her second video, which has both an English and Spanish version.  This video connects with the patient even more directly, as it aims to educate them on how to manage pain post-hysterectomy.  Janice hopes to arrange for it to be available pre-operatively for patients to view. “Patients know that opioids are bad—it’s a hot button topic—but they don’t know how to manage pain with appropriate use or alternatives.”

While Janice’s videos draw on her interest in music, art, and humanities, her science hat is always on, too.  Ideally, Janice would like to see a survey done to see if the video is helpful to patients.  She hopes to find another student who would be interested in taking the lead on this follow-on after she graduates.

Janice’s work in producing educational videos took place within the Hook Scholars program of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities.

Since 2016, the Hook Scholars program has chosen about four first-year medical students to work with Center faculty and affiliates to integrate humanities, bioethics, and arts into their formal medical school education.  All Hook Scholars pursue a scholarly research project their first summer, and then, in their fourth year, complete an independent research or humanities project.

Janice credits the Hook Scholars program with providing the support and infrastructure for her educational videos and the other humanities-related projects she has taken on while in medical school, like writing a monthly newsletter for fellow medical students about medical humanities events and creating an anatomic donor convocation.   “I didn’t feel like I was floating with no place to land. I had this whole other part of me that I think I would have been missing in medical school if not for the Hook Scholars program.”

Janice is heading to the University of Arizona, Phoenix, to begin a residency in OBGYN.  She chose that specialty because it best combines her interests in the clinical and surgical aspects of medicine along with the social context of every patient.  “OBGYNs get to be a part of the most wonderful and exciting times in a woman’s life.”