WHO I AM: Michael Green
WHAT I DO: I am a professor in the departments of Humanities and Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine. I work as a physician in general internal medicine, and I am a teacher and researcher. The general focus of my research is on bioethics and humanities. Over the years, this has generally taken the form of empirical work on medical decision-making and communication. I am currently engaged in an NIH-funded project to help patients make more informed decisions about end-of-life medical care, and to find ways for them (and their family caregivers) to be more empowered to make medical decisions.
I have been involved in Graphic Medicine for a number of years, and am part of the editorial collective of the forthcoming Graphic Medicine book series at Penn State University Press. I will be one of the co-authors of the first book with Susan Squier, Ian Williams, MK Czerwiec, Kimberly Myers and Scott Smith, which is a Graphic Medicine Manifesto of sorts.
In 2012, I served as a jurist for the Lynd Ward Prize for the Best Graphic Novel of the Year, and had the opportunity to read and review many of the finest comics from 2012.
I am also an amateur artist, having been engaged in creative work for much of my life, especially photography and watercolor painting. In recent years, I have been working to integrate my professional activities with my creative ones, and this has been enormously satisfying.
MY CONNECTION TO GRAPHIC MEDICINE: Five years ago, I began teaching a course on Comics and Medicine to 4th year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine. At that time, no one else was doing this, so I had to invent the course from scratch. As I explored existing resources, I stumbled upon Ian William’s “Graphic Medicine” website, and we began to correspond. Our conversations soon led to the idea of hosting the first-ever conference on Graphic Medicine, which Ian pulled together in London several years ago. Since then, I have been on the organizing committee for the subsequent Graphic Medicine conferences held in Chicago, Toronto, and now Brighton. I continue to teach my Comics and Medicine course, have published several essays and articles on comics and medicine, and am working hard to legitimize this medium within mainstream medicine.
HOW I USE GRAPHIC MEDICINE IN MY WORK: I am particularly interested in exploring how comics can be used to educate health care professionals. Not only do I believe that reading comics can be helpful for teaching students how to think critically about the practice of medicine, but also that creating comics can help them communicate more clearly and effectively. I write about these issues in the scholarly literature and continue to explore new ways to teach medical students using comics.
I also recently published my own comic story in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which recounted a traumatic experience from my medical training where I misdiagnosed a patient who ended up dying unexpectedly. Writing this comic helped exorcise some of my diagnostic demons, I am proud that this was the first comic published in a mainstream clinical journal, and hope that this will open the door for others to do the same. In fact, the editors of the Annals have expressed an interest in publishing more work using the comic format, so please talk with me if you are interested in submitting something and I will explain what they are looking for.
PROJECTS BY OTHERS I’M EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW: I’m excited by so much going on in the comics world right now which seems to be experiencing an creativity explosion. In the Graphic Medicine world, I’m particularly excited by the essays in our book series, which I hope will help frame and define this genre for years to come.
WHAT I’LL BE PRESENTING ON IN BRIGHTON: I will be moderating some sessions and participating in a plenary lecture on the interplay between comics, medicine and ethics.
A FEW THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO AT THE 2013 BRIGHTON COMICS & MEDICINE CONFERENCE: I am looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and learning about all the exciting activities under the banner of “graphic medicine.” The keynotes excite me as does the marketplace. This is a great time for our new field, and I am so pleased to be part of it, and to see the diverse activities in which others are engaged.