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Physicians with Passion: Cardiologist and Metal Sculptor Irwin Labin


Indiana cardiologist Irwin Labin, MD, devotes much of his free time to his work as a metal sculptor. He says it provides him with a release from the analytical world of practicing cardiology.

Editor’s note: This article is the third in a series on physicians with passion. To read the first piece on neurologist and photographer Walter Nieves, MD, click here. To read last week’s piece on family practitioner and painter Jeff Brown, MD, click here.


Irwin Labin, a practicing cardiologist and metal sculptor (Photo by Thomas M. Mueller Photography)

Marie-Dominique Beaulieu, MD, recommends art as a path to recovery for patients in her 2013 article in the Canadian Family Physician’s Journal. It is also endorsed widely for cancer patients. This is because the creation of art is a safe method to express powerful feeling in a way that acts as a release of stress and tension.

Left: Irwin Labin, MD, in the office (courtesy Franciscan St Francis Health); Right: Irwin Labin working in his purpose-built studio (photo by Thomas M. Mueller Photography)

Irwin Labin, MD, has done a reversal on this. He is a doctor, not a patient, but he also uses creation of art to refresh himself, in his case from the demands of medicine. In his own words:

Practicing cardiology is a very enjoyable but very analytical endeavor requiring adherence to well established guidelines and review of the latest medical literature. Making abstract steel sculpture is, for me, the exact opposite. My most enjoyable moments are when I go into the studio and start bending and shaping a piece of steel with no particular plan and see where it takes me. This gives me a degree of freedom that does not exist in my day job. I find this mentally refreshing and invigorating. After spending a weekend in the studio I arrive at the hospital ready to dive back into the analytical world with new energy.”

Labin is a Canadian who was trained in Montreal. He moved to the United States for a fellowship at the University of Illinois. Since completing it, he has lived in Indianapolis, IN as a member of Indiana Heart Physicians, a cardiology practice based on the South side of the city. In this role, he has received several awards, one of them being named to the Indianapolis Monthly magazine's 2013 and 2014 “Top Doctor's” list in cardiovascular disease.

Irwin Labin outside his purpose built studio with one of his metal sculptures. (Photo by Thomas M. Mueller Photography)

In order to hone in his craft, Labin took classes at the Art Center of Indianapolis. He also went for a private weekend tutorial with a well-known sculptor in Phoenix, AZ. Not only that; he has a purpose built studio and takes one-half day a week from his cardiology practice to specifically sculpt in addition to using his other free time. There is no doubt that this is a doctor with passion.

My Comment: The type of renewal that Dr. Labin experiences when he sculpts is supported more and more by the literature. It is believed that MDs who use their creative abilities are not only able to cleanse their minds of daily stressors, but in doing so, they are also less likely to experience burnout.

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