Getting Started with Graphic Medicine in Medicine
Liaison: Shirlene Obuobi
Bio: Shirlene Obuobi is a rising Cardiology fellow at University of Chicago and creator of ShirlyWhirl, M.D., a graphic medicine platform available on Instagram, Facebook and at her website, shirlywhirlmd.com. Shirlene’s journey into graphic medicine began naturally—she has been drawing comics that document her experiences since college. ShirlyWhirl, M.D. was started in 2016 when she was a medical student and was initially used as a vehicle for self expression during a time of significant professional growth, but now the focus has shifted to encompass the general experiences of healthcare professionals, commentary on existing healthcare disparities, and larger issues in healthcare, such as the persistence of structural racism. ShirlyWhirlMD has been featured in the Lancet, on Axios, Doximity.com, UChicago magazine, and more.
Contact: Find Shirlene by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How graphic medicine and medicine intersect: Medicine is both an art and a science. Graphic Medicine allows for the creator to bear witness to many of the humanistic aspects of healthcare. Many graphic medicine narratives are from the point of view of persons experiencing illness and interacting with the healthcare system as newcomers, but there is plenty of room for clinician perspectives. In addition, graphic medicine can and is being used as a tool for patient education, as it provides an accessible and efficient way to communicate otherwise complex ideas.
How to get started: Graphic medicine is a subset of narrative medicine, so to get started with graphic medicine, one should first establish a narrative. This is the easy part—there are stories all around us! A narrative can be born from a simple observation, a conversation, a patient interaction, you name it. Then, get the pen (or in my case, the iPad pencil and Procreate app) out. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be an artist to create excellent comics (see xkcd.com for a brilliant, classic webcomic that uses only stick figures).
Key texts, reading suggestions, and resources:
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
Graphic Medicine Manifesto by MK Czerwiec, Ian Williams, Susan Merrill Squier, Michael J Green, Kimberly R. Myers, and Scott T Smith
A Sense of Belonging by Anita Blanchard, Natalie Koscal, and Alison Burke
Graphic medicine: use of comics in medical education and patient care by Michael Green and Kimberly Myers
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