A lifelong athlete and artist, naturopathic medicine student Kelly Buechel connects those passions with the creation of an inspirational mural depicting “vis medicatrix naturae.”
The healing power of nature now greets Bastyr University students as they walk into the refurbished fitness room, thanks to the vision and creativity of Bastyr student Kelly Buechel.
A frequent visitor to the student exercise room, Buechel had been on an advisory committee to bring some new equipment into the room, but she felt like there still was something missing.
“I thought there should be some color in there,” she says. “The room and especially the walls were a bit drab, and I knew that there was a lot of potential for the space.”
Always creative as a child, Buechel decided to channel that talent to spruce up the fitness room, while also fulfilling project requirements for her Naturopathic Theory and Practice class series.
In the winter, she designed a much smaller version of the mural for the class’s “creation project,” then she gathered a team of her fellow first-year classmates to help actually paint the mural over the course of the spring quarter for the spring class’s “community project.”
“Bastyr is a great place for fostering my creativity,” says Buechel, who admits it had been hard to find time for her creativity the last few years. “They really encourage us in our classes to let our creativity thrive, and it was amazing to have my classmates involved in the creative process as well.”
A student in the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program, Buechel and her classmates each were asked to focus on one of the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine for their creative projects:
Buechel’s choice of vis medicatrix naturae turned out to be a natural fit for the exercise room.
“I really wanted to focus on natural elements,” she said, “but I also wanted to incorporate science and chemistry.”
From left to right, the mural morphs from a beehive into chemical symbols, then returns to nature with fruit like blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, then moves into medicinal herbs and foods including calendula, saffron, mushrooms and gingko biloba.
Classmates who helped paint the mural include Camila Herrera; Shelly Fine; Mary Barrett; Brianna Firminger; Emily Greene-Hartsfield; Kathy Severson; and Brandilyn Binstock.
Buechel comes from a family of doctors, so when she was younger she tried to carve out her own path and studied anthropology as an undergraduate student.
But she had always been drawn to natural medicine, partly because her father’s career as an orthopedic surgeon and academic exposed him much later in life to the idea of a more natural, whole-person approach to medicine.
“I liked the idea of the healing power of nature,” Buechel says. “Living on the East Coast my whole life, Washington wasn’t even on my radar, but I was open to a new change and wanted to be surrounded by nature and like-minded people.”
She started learning more about Bastyr and the program, and was further drawn when she learned she didn’t have to be a pre-med student to apply and that the prerequisites were attainable.
“I realized I wanted to be involved in medicine like some of my family members, but wanted to approach health care and healing from a different perspective,” Buechel says.
The fitness room at the Kenmore campus is free for all students to use after they sign up with Student Affairs.
In addition to the new mural, the room also boasts some upgraded equipment thanks to the Student Council, which purchased (with Buechel’s expert advice) new balls, a new exercise bench, new free weights and new cubbies to store your belongings.
“Making this room inviting helps show how important exercise and especially movement can be throughout our lives,” Buechel says.