Faces of U of T Medicine: Josiah Osagie

Dec 11, 2017

Josiah OsagieWhat do the arts, indoor gardening and medicine all have in common? They’re some of Josiah Osagie’s passions. The third-year medical student keenly the intersection of medicine and creativity as a member of ArtBeat, U of T’s Undergraduate Medical Education arts and humanities blog. Osagie talked to Faculty of Medicine writer Julia Soudat about that role, his interest in psychiatry and the obscure Dutch record that’s at the top of his playlist. 

What did you do before coming to U of T Medicine?

I did an undergraduate degree at U of T, majoring in human biology and minoring in psychology and French. I had a year off after my undergraduate degree and I used the time to work, travel and learn about myself.

Why did you choose U of T for medical school?

Many reasons. I did my undergraduate degree here, my family lives in Toronto and I have a great fondness for this city. It also doesn't hurt that U of T has a world class medical training program.

What are your favourite things about the city?

There's much to love about Toronto - the music scene, all the great places to eat, all the interesting neighbourhoods. But what I love most about this city is just how free it is. People here can be whoever they want to be, dress however they want, love whoever they want. We take it for granted but the freedom to live, think, love and be who you are is one of this city's underappreciated gems.

What made you want to become a doctor?

I always find this question difficult because the answer is not as straightforward as it may appear. Although there wasn’t any single experience that shaped my interest in medicine, one interaction had a big impression on me. Once when I was a child, I heard a physician describe medicine as "the profession of healing.” Ever since then, I've found myself drawn to that motif, drawn to the idea that one's life work could be centered around being a healer. And that's what medicine is to me - the art and science of healing.

Do you know what kind of specialty you’d like to pursue later on?

I'm still in my third year and I try my best to leave my mind open to possibilities. But deep in my heart I know I would like to be a psychiatrist because of the depth to which psychiatry allows you to explore your patients. I also find the study of mental illness challenging, fascinating and extremely rewarding.

You’re interested in art and are member of ArtBeat. What is it that draws you to the arts and how do you think art can play a role in medicine?

ArtBeat is a group that seeks to foster creative expression among medical students and engage students in exploring the connection between medicine and the humanities. We plan a yearly art exhibition called Synesthesia, maintain a blog for sharing student writings, host a discussion group where students gather together to reflect on their experiences in medicine among many other initiatives. I was the Arts & Letters lead at ArtBeat, which involved planning arts-based outings for medical students to attend (e.g. going to see a play, or visit a gallery). Now that I'm a clerk, I've transitioned my role to the younger medical students and they're doing a wonderful job.

I love art because it fills me with a sense of beauty. It colours my world with loveliness. But beyond aesthetics, art is also a study of what it is like to be a human being. And I think this is exactly what medicine is — a study of human life, from a different lens. Each one (art and medicine) provides unique insights that the other doesn’t and I believe a clinician who’s able to combine both perspectives is better equipped to understand and heal their patients.

Josiah Osagie's House PlantsWhat do you like to do outside of school? Hobbies, interests, passions?

I'm passionate about plants and I maintain a bit of an indoor rainforest in my apartment. I'm also an avid consumer of music and enjoy a good book when time allows me to.

Current favourite album?

My favourite album right now is called Palmbomen II by a Dutch producer of the same name. It's an obscure but really melodic house record and I can't stop listening to it.

Faces of U of T Medicine introduces you to some of the interesting people studying in the Faculty of Medicine. From advising political leaders to providing care to Toronto’s most vulnerable populations, our students are making an impact on communities at home and around the world.

Do you have an interesting story to share? Contact us at medicine.communications@utoronto.ca.

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