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Life as a Physician Artist

Updated: Feb 24, 2023


Note: transcription provided by Otter.AI, which is a company that develops speech-to-text transcription and translation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Welcome, everybody to this week's podcast episode of the financial freedoms for physicians podcast, where we discuss all types of freedom. So we promote four types of freedom, which is time, location, emotional and financial freedom. And today we have a very special guest, a very creative guest, which is why I brought her on the show. So we have Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD. And before I introduce her, I want to read her bio, which is very amazing. So Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD, born and raised, grew up in Korea, and came to the United States at the age of 16. Then she went to Wesleyan University, a very prestigious university, Bachelor of Arts in chemistry, which was my major as well. Then went on to Yale Medical School, which is, you know, one of the top medical schools in the country, got her medical degree, and went on to do an internship and residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, one of the top hospitals as well. She's practiced internal medicine for 26 years to the present. But in particular, I want to highlight the creative aspect. So Dr. Sharpe has won numerous Art Awards, and solo in group exhibits, which you'll see today, in 2021, to show she was featured in international art exhibits art fairs, in Milan, Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels, in addition to two shows in New York, all of the proceeds from her art sales, go to support, charity, and she's also starting to write her memoir, in particular, listen to the ups and downs of her journey, which is very typical of entrepreneurs. So without much ado, we welcome to the show, Dr. Susie Sharpe. Hello, Dr. Sharpe, how are you doing?

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Thank you for the introduction. Happy to be here.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Well, I'm so excited about this show, because, like I said, I really want to highlight physicians that are doing very innovative, creative, exciting things really pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone. So you know, you came here to the States at the age of 16. And, you know, went on to one of the best medical schools and residency. So I want to hear all about the story, all the hardships, the triumphs and tribulations. So tell us all about where you came from.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: So when I was 16, it was my parents' decision to come to the United States, they felt like the children would maybe have better opportunities. And I think that, you know, life in Korea wasn't easy. You know, I was born less than 10 years after the end of the Korean War. So there's a lot of poverty. And, you know, there's a constant threat of North Korea invading the south again. So I think that was part of their decision making. And so we landed in New York City. And none of us spoke any English except my mother. And I started in the middle of high school, not knowing any English. And so I experienced a lot of teasing. And, you know, having to look up a dictionary and then the Korean to English to Korean dictionary constantly. And then, I did exceptionally well, but I was trying to decide what to do with my life. So in Korea, I was all set to become an artist. And my dream was to study art and maybe study abroad in Paris, come back to Korea to teach as an art professor.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Wow, that's amazing.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: But when I landed in New York, I realized my parents who were professionals in Korea were suddenly like, nobody, they couldn't translate their training and skills and in the United States, they were already in their 40s and 50s. I realized, if I didn't make it on my own, I didn't have any backup system at all. Okay. And, you know, my father was having to do physical labor to support the family. And we were going throughout the mirror experiencing a lot of discrimination. And I realized that if I became an artist, you know, there was no certainty that I could even support myself. You know, at that time, I was a good Christian, I wanted to talk about maybe becoming an American missionary and helping people. So I decided maybe I should go into medicine instead of art. But it was such a, just, you know, literally impossible dream, that I couldn't tell anybody, that that's what I wanted to do. I just felt like everybody was ridiculing me for it. So I kept it to myself. And I started college. And I chose to major in chemistry, for one reason, which is, it required the least amount of English. So although I had no interest in the subject, it was much easier to get A's in chemistry, then than anything else, really. And so I finished pre med, and then I did some cancer research in Boston, and then I started medical school. And even in medical school, well, well, even even in college, actually, I was having to tape record all the lectures, because I couldn't understand the lectures. So I sat in the front road, recording every lecture, and transcribing it later. And, you know, a one hour lecture may take four hours to transcribe and take notes afterwards. But that's sort of how I got through and worked multiple jobs, because my parents couldn't pay for any part of my education. So I'm through pre med and medical school, I worked a lot of hours. And eventually, you know, I became a fish and I'm very fortunate that I love medicine now. And it's been a very, very rewarding career. And very demanding, but very rewarding to help people and make a difference.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That's an amazing story. You know, my parents had a similar background, because they came to the States in 1978. And back then, you know, they had $200 in a suitcase. And, you know, $200 back then was probably, you know, $2,000 here, you know, but like, you know, but the, you know, our culture, you know, we emphasize work ethic and sacrifice and hard work, and we see the fruits of our labor. Um, but, you know, also, they, we, you know, because we experienced a lot of hardships and discrimination, especially, you know, now these days, you know, the, with a lot of social movements, so, but back then, you know, people didn't say much, so, you know, you're to be commended to continue, so and then, and then, you know, it's just do what you have to do whatever, it takes mentality to succeed. So, and then you're an excellent example of creating your dreams, and then moving forward. So you're, that's, that's why we bring a superstar such as yourself on to the show. Thank you. Yeah. And so you didn't, you didn't take medicine? And now you're what made you decide to go into art? What were some of the factors that made you decide to transition?

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: So all these years, when I was going through medical training and practicing medicine, I knew that at some point, I had to do art, I could only do it for my passion for so long, you know. So once, kids were a little bit older, I started taking art classes again. And then I joined a lot of art groups and started doing group shows with them. And one time, I saw an artist who kind of inspired me to maybe someday I could do a solo show. And so, eventually, I did a solo show, and it was a huge success. So after that, I said, doing multiple solo shows. So you know, in recent years, I would do maybe up to 25 shows in a year. Some of them are group shows and some solo shows. And at some point, I basically did solo shows in every major place in Springfield, Missouri. So I dreamt of you know, reaching out to a bigger stage to buy directly maybe New York or the west coast. But last year, my art cut was discovered online by artists in a gallery in Madrid. Wow. So I got invited to do a show at the international level. So this year, I have shows coming up in Paris in June, Luxembourg and Brussels. Yeah, so I'm really, really excited.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So have you have you been able to make, you know, I know you've been able to make sales of your, your artwork in for the listeners, you can go to Dr. Susie, sharps website, which is www dot Suzi, which she's going to bring up in a few moments to highlight some of the work, but it's sounds like you have been able to take your passion. So you went from medicine, you know, which was the stable pathway, you know, gave you a good brand. And now you're now that you have stability, now you're able to pursue your passions in your creativity. So tell us more about, you know, you sound like you've gotten a lot of exposure with these international shows and solo shows. So tell us more about that.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: So well, you know, I'm very active online. Okay. And these international shows are, well, they were actually scheduled earlier this year, but got tougher to get rescheduled for later this year. Okay, I did one in Milan last month. And that was that one well, okay. And so now, I have followers all over the, you know, all over the world actually. And my art sales are so pretty huge. It really picked up in recent, you know, recent months. And I love sharing my art because I have messaged to share, you know, so physicians, we see you know, a lot of subhuman suffering a lot of sadness, a lot of death and, and so my mission as an artist is to show beautiful side of life, bring hopeful messages and get people inspired to pursue beauty and their passion and so on. And it works well for me right now. Because it's, I feel like I've got an out perfect combination of doing medicine and art. Side by side. Okay, and I think I probably do maybe 70% Medicine 30% art, keep me busy. It takes a completely different type of mindset to do both and could be a challenge. Because in medicine, you know, you have to be completely exact and precise in your diagnosis and medications and you know, follow up and so on and art. It takes a completely different type of mindset, you know? Yeah. Oh, it could be pretty interesting.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. So you're marrying the left and the right brains together. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Um, do you want to show the audience your work and then describe some of the best work and some of the inspiration behind the work and describe some of the emotions and feelings of the artwork?

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Sure, a cat let's see. I see all right to see that right now on the screen. Yeah, I see. That's yeah, I see a perfect so this is my cover page. Alright, so go to my gallery and I have different sections. So this right here has been my most popular section lately. It's last year you know, none of us were able to take vacation or and I really miss going to the beach and seeing the ocean so out of that I created the ocean and blue series. And so you know, mostly my paintings were very colorful, but you know, I found that I could really express a lot of beauty just using different shades of blue. And so this has been very well received.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Looks like they these this These paintings were all sold. Wow, that's wonderful.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: A lot of these pieces got sold and so now people are buying a lot of my reproduction. Okay. And with a professional to clay, it actually comes out very, very well. and sometimes even myself, I can tell the difference between my original and reproduction.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: It looks almost like stained glass. What is that? How did you create that? Or is it colors? Or how do you? How did you?

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Like it's acrylic painting with mixed media. Okay. Yeah. And people have I think find that just it gives them hope. It gives them inspiration. And so this category has been just very, very popular. Okay. So you know, a lot of us went through some degree of depression and sadness last year losing a lot of people and, you know, wondering when, when the pandemic if ever is gonna be over, you know, not seeing people and, and so I think that's probably why this series? Well, that's why it was created. And that's why I think it's just been extremely popular last year and this year.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. Yeah, I think the, I think, last year, you know, a lot of the artists in the creatives they leveraged they got creative in how do they because you know, everybody's locked down, stay at home can travel. So, you know, how do you reach your audience? And how do you reach your clients? And so I think they turn to new ways using the internet and through video presentations, social media, and, you know, that gives them a greater audience in a greater reach. So, that sounds like what, you know, happened, you know, you people were able to find you easier, because everybody went online.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Yeah, so it's, you know, I know that some of the physicians are running, like, coaching programs, or they have podcasts and stuff like that. And they approached me wanting to purchase images so that they could put on their website to Oh, to brighten up or yeah, in order to pass on an app, you know, positive messages. So it's been very, very popular. missed us change to maybe a different category, from Blue, and let's see how that goes here.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Okay. So now we're at the music lovers Gallery, and Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD will discuss some of the paintings in this gallery.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Okay, so I'm a pianist, and I love music. So a lot of my paintings reflect my love of music. And here you see the full colors. And these were done in acrylic. And, you know, I've done a lot of violin with my children, there's a violin in a lot of pieces. And here is this piece that was actually painted during a concert. So there were several artists that were invited to paint onstage during a symphony concert. So in front of this, you know, 3000 people audio, we are there on stage, and it was very, very inspiring. And so this piece was recently sold, but it was a very special time. Wow. Okay, so here, again, hidden musical instruments in the middle of pieces. And this is for the guitar lovers. So again, you see the music instruments? Yeah, yeah. So, at some point, you know, I dreamed up another life as a violinist. And so this piece was inspired by my dream of being an A violinist, and another another life.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Wow. So artist, musician, physician

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Yeah. Except that my children did Allah. We did a lot of music, but they didn't go into music, or art. Well, actually, one is doing art illustration. My daughter is studying illustration. Uh huh. Yeah. My son is doing engineering.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Oh, wow. You must be very proud.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Yeah, yeah. I'm very proud of them. One of the best things that came out of the pandemic is that last year I got to spend a couple of months with them. They came home from college and grad school was wonderful.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. And, and I know you have some paintings of a lot of The portrait says well.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: It's so good to put it on. Okay, so Oh, wow. And JFK and narrow said, my colors are just very bright and just Yeah, striking in. That's how I like to do portraits. Nice. This is part of my Heroes series. So JFK, obviously my hero, Bill Gates my hero, because he is somebody who has been hugely successful, but then he's using his success to better the world. So I love what he does after what is done after he's retired, you know, so yeah, exactly. First he and Melinda Gates make through this foundation. So now that's very inspiring. This portrait I did actually, recently because I was commissioned by another physician to do her work. So and again, by here's see theories, asked Gandhi. Okay, yeah. Wow. These are huge, actually, each one of these now 24 by 36, or 24 by 30. And then, that's my self portrait.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Nice. So if, if the audience was interested in contacting you, or, you know, purchasing these paintings, how would they get in touch with you?

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Oh, if they go to my website, there's direct contact information. So that part would be easiest.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. Okay. So, and you're also on Facebook as well. And also, Instagram too, right? Oh, yeah. So that's wonderful. So, it sounds like you've had a really wonderful, amazing story and very inspiring career in your journey. So is there anything you want to share for the audience and, and to the audience, I'm also a lot of the links in the references, and resources that Dr. Sharpe mentioned will be put in the show notes. So um, so Dr. Sharpe, what, uh, what's your final message for the audience and, and, or any words of encouragement or inspiration during these times.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: I think that all of us have dreams and desires that will do something someday, you know, whether it's art or business or writing a book or travel, whatever. And rather than having a long bucket list that keeps postponing, I think that I like to just go ahead and start doing it, because there is no guarantee for tomorrow. This past year, I lost a number of people, including my father, and many people carry their desires and dreams and bucket list to their grave, you know, some of them more young people that went unexpectedly. And so I try to really live each day or still, this might be the last day, you know, whatever you want to do, just do it now. Okay? Because it may not be okay, so that's why I'm trying to do so many international shows and my shows in New York and stuff. Because, you know, next year, who knows what might happen and just do it, I think it's, it's my message to people.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, yeah. Do you have so many pearls there because last year, a lot of doctors it was their final straw. And, you know, they realize they only have one life to live in one chance. And so you know, with everything, that with the world being able to be shut down almost overnight, you know, you don't have any choice but to you know, go after your dreams. So, you know, those, you know, and you miss 100% of the shots you don't take so you know, you may take a shot and miss but at least you have a chance to win. So but if you don't try you, you're 100% chance of losing so that's a route I really enjoyed the your story and listening to it. It was very inspirational. And I think a lot of creatives, not just artists, but photographers, movie producers, and a lot of creatives will take a lot of inspiration from this episode, so thank you so much, and we'll see you in the future episodes. Thanks for having me. And be well.

Dr. Susie Sharpe, MD: Thank you.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you're new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I'll see you there in on next week's show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via email at I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!

About: Dr. Susie Sharpe, was born and raised in Korea. She immigrated to the US at age 16. She then received her BA from Wesleyan University (Chemistry), and then went to receive her MD from Yale Medical School. Dr. Susie Sharpe did her internship/ residency at Yale New-Haven Hospitals, is board certified in internal medicine, and has practiced internal medicine for 26 years to present. She has received numerous art awards and her works of art have been featured in both solo and group exhibits.



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