I worked all my life at jobs I didn’t like and for which I wasn’t really suited. They were money-driven jobs, incentive-laden to push harder to earn or raise money, to sell a product—more and more products, with no regard to their true value. Finally urged into semiretirement, I was free to actually, guiltlessly, focus on my art, which includes acting as well as visual arts, both of which I have spent much happy time pursuing over the last several years.
I became a standardized patient at Albany Medical Center (AMC) in 2011, and it very quickly became a new form of meaningful expression, not unlike painting and acting. The process is creative, a blending of the intuitive and the learned, and like the creation of a part in a play or a new pastel drawing, it is the process, not the end product, that is the essential satisfaction. Being part of medical students’ evolution from smart science students to useful and generous doctors is a special thing. Creating honest and lifelike scenarios, providing feedback, friendship, and insight to their educational arcs, making a full commitment to excellence so that they might learn, is equal to the creation of art.
As I’ve become a better standardized patient, I like to think I’ve become a better, more skilled, and more self-aware artist. The need for attention to detail, the increase in self-belief, and the hard work, is something I can give to, and take from, my experience with medical students; there’s a wholeness to my work at AMC that links directly to my creative self.
Gary J. Maggio
Mr. Maggio is an artist, actor, and standardized
patient, Albany, New York; e-mail: GMagikman@gmail.com.