Pulse newmasthead 10th anniv 2252x376px

About More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.



new subscription

Join the 11,000+ who receive Pulse weekly

energize subscription 
Energize your subscription
with a contribution and
Pulse vibrant


Cathleen Mahan

About the artist: 

Cathleen Mahan is a contemporary visual artist and a registered nurse specializing in critical care. "I've long known that my experience as a nurse informs my artwork. The same quality of touch that reassures a frightened patient becomes a creative source in the studio. Never, however, has my artwork been so directly linked to my patients as in the body of work that includes this drawing."

About the artwork:

"One day last year while attending to the usual studio tasks, I felt compelled to draw. Inexplicably, I found myself furiously rendering the memory of a patient I cared for thirty-five years ago. Over the course of the next month a total of eighteen patients/experiences/memories beckoned me to revisit them through drawing. The process was humbling and curious. As any healthcare professional will attest, certain patients stay with us, welcome or not. These hitchhikers of memory, it seems, have a purpose after all. In 'X-mas Eve,' Alvin and the Chipmunks merrily sing holiday music in the background, but this woman hears only the news that her husband of sixty-four years will not survive the night."

Visuals editor:

Justin Sanders


# Terry Hourigan 2016-02-07 16:40
As a hospice nurse and later a cancer patient, for me
this evokes profound moments from both views.
At work, similar moments would present from time to time,
unexpected and raw
despite careful preparation,
and again I'm a deer in the headlights.
From the view of the surrendering survivor,
or in my case the patient,
it's a painful and vulnerable scene.
Your picture sticks with me.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Cathleen Mahan 2016-02-09 14:47
Terry, a sincere thank you for sharing your experiences. You eloquently highlight the shared vulnerabilities of the caregiver as well as the patient.
I am so pleased that this work resonated with you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Marilyn Barton, RN 2016-02-07 14:05
Hi, this is a really good image. I am also a critical care nurse and teach a class called "mental health first aid" . In the class I include drawings and pictures. Would I be able to use this in my class? I have a lot of nurse participants.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Cathleen Mahan 2016-02-09 14:52
I'm happy that you found this image to be engaging. You have my permission to use this image in your personal presentation. Thank you for asking. Please contact me at for any other use or to share a bit more about your class
Thank you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote