Published on March 02, 2021

Practicing the Art of Medicine

Dr. Pizzimenti art

David Pizzimenti, D.O., practices the art of medicine—with a special emphasis on the art.

Dr. Pizzimenti often illustrates as he teaches the internal medicine residents. “It’s my favorite way to teach,” he says. “The more senses you use, the better you learn it.”

Dr. Pizzimenti with his paintingAs North Mississippi Health Services’ associate medical officer of Acute Care, Dr. Pizzimenti leads the hospitalist program and directs the new Internal Medicine Residency Program.

Dr. Pizzimenti often illustrates as he teaches the internal medicine residents. “It’s my favorite way to teach,” he says. “The more senses you use, the better you learn it.” One look at the white board in his office confirms medicine and art are equal passions. When he’s not taking care of patients or teaching residents, he enjoys painting.

A native of South Florida, Dr. Pizzimenti painted his first work at age 12. He recreated a postcard featuring Earnest Hemingway’s home in nearby Key West. Other than basic art classes in high school, he never had any formal art training. While taking community college classes in Florida, he often studied at the library. There he became interested in art history and started trying to mimic some of the works he saw in books.

Dr. Pizzimenti paintingDuring medical school at Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, art became a way to “decompress.” His first art show was at New River Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale in 1998, followed by two others in 2000 and 2001. In 1999 his medical school sponsored an arts competition, and he won the $800 first prize. Art also became a way for him to make money throughout medical school and residency training, as he sold many of his works.

He continued to paint after moving to north Mississippi with his wife, Dr. Marissa Cruz, in 2005. Before joining the NMMC staff in 2019, he served in a similar role at Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth.

Dr. Pizzimenti paintingPainting allows Dr. Pizzimenti to express himself. “My paintings are usually rationalizations of things I see or am going through,” he says. “I wrote an article once about the problems with medical education. I had second thoughts about publishing the article, so instead I painted over it.”

The painting depicts a young medical student entering the “funnel” of medical education with high aspirations—at the small end of the funnel, among other items, are a computer, illustrating the high volume of data entry required of physicians, and Don Quixote chasing windmills. In the original painting, you can still see bits and pieces of his article peeking through. The painting was displayed in the National Academy of Medicine’s Expressions of Clinician Well-Being exhibit in Washington, D.C., before he donated it to Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, where his friend served as dean. A print made from the painting hangs in his office at NMMC.

Dr. Pizzimenti makes his own canvases and frames his paintings in wooden frames he builds himself. He started doing so as a student because it was the only way he could afford to paint—he continues the practice now because he enjoys it.

Dr. Pizzimenti paintingHe describes his paintings as “abstract with surreal elements” and a “whimsical” or “cartoonish” feel. Dr. Pizzimenti primarily uses oil paint, although he has recently discovered the joy of creating with an iPad and Apple pencil. Medicine seems to be his central theme, but you will also note owls (representing wisdom), religious objects and the process of evolution.

Between balancing work and family –which now includes a 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son—most of his painting is done late at night in his home studio. “I think there are two things that have made me a better doctor,” Dr. Pizzimenti says. “One is my kids – they have made me much nicer and more understanding. The other is my artwork.”