Paying It Forward: A Critical Care Physician’s Use of Art for Charity

Dr. Prerna S. Sharma is a pulmonologist and critical care physician who primarily works in an intensive care unit.

During the pandemic, Dr. Sharma experienced similar challenges and struggles as many other healthcare workers.

Despite her unwavering commitment to patient care, she couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of despair and helplessness as she witnessed the toll the virus was taking on her patients. 

Furthermore, she was plagued with, in her words: “gut-wrenching fear that I might lose my loved ones in India.” At the time, Dr. Sharma lived in the US, but when she received word that her mother had contracted COVID, she flew to Mumbai to visit her.

Thankfully, her mother recovered and was soon able to get discharged. Growing up, Prerna often saw her mother painting, and it was a painting that her mother was so eager to do again once she returned home from the hospital.

On that note, Dr. Sharma comments: “I was amazed by how much she had missed her canvases and colors while hospitalized and how eagerly she was awaiting her return to them.”

On returning to the US, Dr. Sharma was required to self-quarantine in her home for two weeks. Wanting to find something to occupy her time, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and paint.

She comments: “From then on, there was no looking back. Painting is akin to meditation for me. My mind becomes fixated on the colors, and my hand moves effortlessly across the canvas.”

At first, her thoughts were more negative in nature—influenced by the pandemic. However, she learned to incorporate gratitude in her painting sessions.

On that note, she explains: “The results were remarkable. Combining the meditative practice of painting with the benefits of gratitude made a significant difference.”

She goes on to say: “…painting has been instrumental in finding my inner peace and grounding me during these difficult times.” Since then, she has worked to increase awareness of mental health and wellness and the value of self-care tools like painting. 

More importantly, Dr. Sharma wishes to use her artwork to fundraise for charities and give back to her community. She helps others realize the value of self-care and encourages them to also give back to their communities.

She explains: “As an artist, I want to use my creative skills and platform to raise funds for various charitable causes. I plan on organizing fundraising events that involve the sale of my artwork, as well as events where people can sign up to paint with me in different cities across the country.”

In memory of her friend who died from complications of cystic fibrosis, she wants to start giving back to her community by donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

By doing so, she hopes to honor her friend’s memory and make a meaningful impact on others suffering from the same disease. 

 “My decision to pursue medicine was driven by a desire to help people and make a difference,” Dr. Sharma adds. “I have been fortunate enough to volunteer at tuberculosis clinics, schools, and other charitable institutions early in my career. Now, I am determined to reignite my philanthropic spirit to make a positive impact on my community and beyond.”

All in all, Dr. Prerna S. Sharma discovered that art served as a means for centering and as an outlet for release during the pandemic, and now she utilizes it to assist others, whether it be by promoting well-being among healthcare workers or by engaging in charitable endeavors for the community.

Prerna’s commitment to giving back to her community is a testament to the power of individuals to make a positive impact on the world around them.

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