Portrait of the Physician During a Pandemic

About the Artwork

” ‘I can’t do it anymore, I can’t breathe for myself.’ This was the last sentence I heard a nineteen-year-old patient utter before he was intubated. He was young but had advanced undiagnosed diabetes. This patient, among many others in the COVID ICU and medicine floors, stood as a tragic example of the importance of primary care.

“Understanding COVID as a physician felt impossible initially. Deciphering why some individuals became terribly ill and others were unaffected was a guessing game. But what did stand out was that most had some component of a preventable illness.

“As primary-care physicians, we saw patients from the onset of the pandemic, we often found ourselves isolating from our loved ones to protect them, we suffered from the very illness that we were trying to treat, and at the same time we were ready to address the aftermath of this virus and its long-term complications.

“This collection of images captures the likenesses of my fellow residents and attendings during the height of COVID in New Jersey. These images may be perceived as a series of masked people. But in reality, the individuals who comprise the illustrations are distinct entities with their own respective strengths. While isolated after possibly contracting the virus, I created these pieces to pay homage to the sacrifice and leadership of my colleagues and mentors.”

Archana Jayakumar is a multimedia artist based in New Jersey specializing in anatomy, portraiture and landscapes. She works as a freelance painter and photographer while also pursuing her interest in public health and career in medicine. As a practicing physician and artist, she enjoys combining the two as often as possible.

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