Daniel Wang was a first-year student and starting to feel the stress of medical school when he signed up as a volunteer photographer at an event benefiting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that supports cancer research. Ironically, from that desire to get his mind off of school by indulging his photography hobby was born a blog that tells the stories behind the faces at Baylor and beyond.
Stories from the Center, Wang’s blog, launched last year, featuring photos and first-person essays from healthcare professionals from TMC institutions.
“The St. Baldrick’s event turned out to be the coolest thing,” said Wang of the organization that raises money in part through events where participants shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients, seeking contributions from family, friends and the community. “A doctor was shaving his head next to a patient he had treated. I felt very inspired; it was hard not to,” Wang recalled.
An idea started to take root for Wang. “I had been doing photography for a while as a hobby. I like to take photos of things that capture my eye. But now I started to think about how I could use my photography interest and skills to tell stories of the positive things that are going on in the Texas Medical Center.”
Initially, Wang wanted to launch a project that would encompass a broad cast of people from the medical center. “I wanted to involve everyone in the healthcare setting, from the front desk staff to doctors and especially patients. But it became clear that was a major undertaking, so with input from Dr. Mary Brandt, I decided that I would focus just on healthcare professionals. It was great to have that feedback and focus from her.”
He settled on a blog format and set out to tell his first story. He turned to the doctor he had met at the St. Baldrick’s event, Dr. Tim Porea, associate professor of pediatrics and clinical director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center. From there, he made connections with others from Baylor and the TMC. For each story, he conducts and records an interview and schedules a photography session. His goal is to keep the interview conversational, and let the topic for each blog story evolve naturally. It’s important to him that the doctors, nurses, researchers and healthcare professionals tell their story in their own words. The resulting posts are personal reflections on topics like gender equality, diversity and raising a family.
Wang has been pleased with the enthusiastic response from throughout the TMC.
“People have been really open to it. I was expecting them to be too busy to make time for a student project,” he said.
For him, the project remains an outlet as he continues on in medical school. “I love creating the images and making this site – it hasn’t felt like work. And it serves as a reminder that medicine is a million things – it’s not just giving a patient a pill or taking a history – it’s healthcare, research, education and more that come together for the greater good.”