Aurora Libraries

Presentation Notes

Paper presented at: Midcontinental Chapter Medical Library Association Annual Meeting; October 5, 2018; virtual meeting.


Background: Graphic medicine is a branch of medical humanities that has begun to pop up in medical school curriculums. It is both as a tool to understand patients and families better and to express oneself as a clinician. It has not been well-studied in the undergraduate population. A health science librarian proposed and taught a seminar to investigate: Does exposure to graphic medicine increase empathy among undergraduate students; does graphic medicine increase interest in health care careers?

Methods: Graphic Medicine: Illness, Disease, and Health in Comics, was a 12-week, 75-minute, one-credit seminar, taught at Marquette University in Fall 2017. Class work included reading comics, presentations from practicing clinicians and comic artists, and creating a short original comic. Pre and post-class paper surveys were distributed. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected.

Results: 11/12 students completed the class. Self-rated empathy stayed consistent; however student comments suggested they understood a patient’s experience better at the end: “It made me realize how no one is ever alone in their illness” and “It opened my eyes to better understand the hidden emotional trials that people go through”. 8/12 planned on working in health care at the start of the class, 7/11 at the end of term.

Conclusion: Among already declared undergraduate students, exposure to graphic medicine may not increase interest in health care careers. In addition to understanding patients better, exposure to graphic medicine and comics may prove to be a useful, self-care tool. One student remarked, “It’s cathartic to tell your story.”

Document Type

Oral/Podium Presentation

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