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Art of Medicine

"Child with Kwashiorkor"

Intaglio print, 9 inches by 12 inches
By Daniel Kaser, M.D.

Kaser is a 2009 graduate of DMS. He spent the summer of 2005 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, working at an infectious disease clinic run jointly by Dartmouth and Tanzania's Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences. "On weekends," Kaser recalled later, "I'd travel to the outskirts of the city into small villages often untouched by electricity, outside trade, or medical care. In one village, I saw a child with kwashiorkor for the first time. I still remember his face." Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition caused by lack of protein; its symptoms include a distended abdomen, swollen feet, loss of muscle mass, and lethargy. Kaser created this print a few months later, saying, "It is both humbling and inspirational and ensures that I will not forget the face of preventable disease abroad." His interest in communicating through art began early on. "My mom founded a community arts center in central Ohio," he says, "and I grew up taking studio classes there." While he was at DMS, he headed the School's Arts and Humanities Council (and also served as a member of Dartmouth Medicine's Editorial Board). "I like art," he says, "because it is impossible to make an error—you can always fix a mistake with an eraser or some paint or by smashing the clay and starting over. This idea of impermanence initially stood in distinction to my approach to science and medicine, where you are taught there is one correct way of solving a problem. As I learn more about medicine, though, I have come to realize that often there are multiple paths to the same outcome." Kaser is currently a first-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

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