guest post by Michael Green
Comics are beginning to have a real world impact on the training of physicians. When I first started to teach comics to medical students, I dreamed that some day, a physician would pull out a comic during clinical rounds to make an important teaching point to his or her trainees. It seems that’s actually taking place now. A former medical student of mine who is now doing a residency in Anesthesiology just shared the following experience:
I just wanted to tell you a cool story about the great impact your work is having. I was recently on service in the Respiratory Care Unit here at Cleveland Clinic. It is a stepdown unit for trach’d patients having difficulty getting off the ventilator. We see lots of double lung transplants, severe RHF, MDR pneumonias, and everything in between. While presenting one my patients’ history on rounds I mentioned he/she had COPD. My staff (very well known and respected pulm/critical care) stopped my presentation to ask me how I knew this patient had COPD. Without any spirometry tests supporting my statement I didn’t have much to go on other than past H&Ps and listed diagnoses in EMR. He proceeded to instruct me on the slippery slope of perpetuating medical diagnoses (specifically COPD) that may not have any clinical evidence to back them. “Not every respiratory issue in a former smoker is COPD or an exacerbation thereof.” He further illustrated his point by saying “there was a comic in the Annals of Internal Medicine that talked about this very thing” and pulled up your comic for the team to see. I was able to save a little face by telling him about you, the class, and the power of graphic story telling in medicine. Just thought I’d let you know that your story is having a positive impact on patient care. You’re encouraging seasoned and incredibly well respected physicians to be more vigilant and thorough with the care they provide. I am really glad I took your class. I was honestly shocked and in dire need of a benzo when I found out we’d be doing just as much drawing as reading, but I would re-enroll 10 times over if I could. Good luck to you and the future of the course.