IRIS, the UNC School of Medicine’s art and literary journal, provides an artistic release for many medical students, faculty and staff.
The magazine will be accepting submissions for its annual issue until March 2.
The online magazine showcases both visual works — photography, drawings and paintings — as well as pieces of poetry and prose. IRIS was originally a hard copy magazine published in the 1990s, but publication stopped in the 2000s.
Lee Hong, a medical and Ph.D. student in her fourth year, realized the need for an artistic release in the campus medical community in 2012.
“I really wanted some kind of creative arts presence on campus,” Hong said. “I decided to create something that would basically be a forum for people to submit their work and have it shared with other people.”
Hong sought out creative people who would be dedicated to bringing the magazine back and recruited medical students Jenny Shen and Jason Fishel, as well as a few first-year medical students, to help restart the magazine and ensure its continuation.
“I kind of underestimated how rewarding it is in a lot of ways,” Hong said. “There are a lot of people who empathize with all the things you’re dealing with, not just with medical school but with going through life.”
Although many stories focus on patients or moving medical experiences, many submissions are about everyday life.
“It’s assuring to me that we’re all in this together, and sharing that is so important in getting that sense of community and enthusiasm for the arts,” said Hong, who is a regular editor and still contributes some creative writing pieces.
The magazine provides a platform for medical students to release stress, said longtime contributor Alicia Schaffer, a fourth-year medical student.
“It provides students a place to externally process everything that happens in medical school,” Schaffer said. “There’s a lot of heavy stuff you deal with all the time.”
IRIS plans several events throughout the year, such as a poetry night and a wine and design art workshop. This spring, the group will host a talent show where poetry and musical pieces will be performed and a spring showcase featuring art and photography submissions. Both of these events take place in the lobby of the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
The magazine is run by five editors, each specializing in a different artistic area, and an editor-in-chief, second-year medical student Hannah Noah.
“In practice, we really all just do work together a lot more than doing our own thing,” Noah said.
Noah said submissions have been slower this year, but they are making efforts to advertise more proactively.