Both sides of Eman Attaya, MD’s brain are constantly at work.
As a radiologist at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Dr. Attaya has an obvious interest in science. But she also has had a lifelong affinity for the arts, including photography, illustrations, and creative writing.
For the past few years, Dr. Attaya has channeled her pragmatic and artistic sides in a variety of ways.
She is a member of the 2019 class of the Texas Medical Association’s Leadership College, which helps train young physicians, or those early in their medical careers, for leadership positions at the county and state levels. Dr. Attaya plans to use the experience to help improve science education in Lubbock elementary schools.
She also has written and self-published two children’s books. The first, Have You Seen a Sunset Before?, is a 58-page poem featuring drawings and photos of sunsets taken during Dr. Attaya’s travels. The idea is to teach kids to appreciate the beauty of nature, while introducing scientific concepts such as how the Earth rotates to create sunsets.
The second is a religious poem/picture book that illustrates the characteristics of God for children that is titled, Our God is One. Who is He?
She has donated all of the money from sales of her books — about 200 so far — to two charities: Islamic Relief and Helping Hand For Relief and Development. In September, she raised more than $5,000 for Helping Hand to buy blankets for Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. She also is sending 60 copies of both books to refugees overseas.
Texas Medicine spoke to Dr. Attaya about her books and her charity work. Below are her answers:
I’ve always loved art, and I’ve always loved science. When I graduated from college, I wasn’t sure I was going to go to medical school. … But through the process of elimination I said, “OK, I think medical school would be the best fit for me.” But I’ve always been inclined toward the arts as well.
I want to change the school curriculum here in Lubbock to introduce more basic medical concepts to younger children so they’re more in tune with their bodies. I don’t think it’s necessary for them to wait until middle or high school to get some basic health information.
I feel like we’re taught basic English and math early on, but our bodies are one of the most important things that we have. To know about it early on is important.
I like to work with the charities. I have an empathetic nature. I feel that we’re so blessed here in the U.S., and it bothers me that people overseas don’t have the same blessings that we have and the basic necessities.
The point (of Have You Seen a Sunset Before?) was I want kids to observe their natural surroundings. I feel like they’re so stuck looking at their iPhones and iPads nowadays. It happened with my nieces. We were on a trip, and they were totally engrossed in their iPads. I said, “Look outside, look how beautiful it is outside.”
In the book I mention multiple times: Grab family or friends and go outside. I tell them, “Please observe your surroundings. It’s going to be more exciting than your iPad.”
Each one of these books took me over a year to write and publish. I’m busy with work, so on my weekends I’d work a little bit on it. On some of my weeks off, I’d work a little bit on it. It’s a long process.
It’s such a great feeling to accomplish something outside of work. I’d definitely tell any physician who wants to do something creative to try to pursue it.
Tex Med. 2019;115(1):18-19
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