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Graphic Medicine

A reference guide highlighting the use of graphic novels and comics in medical education and patient care.

What is Graphic Medicine?

Graphic Medicine refers to the use of graphic novels, comics, and visual storytelling in medical education, patient care, and other applications related to healthcare and the life sciences.  The term was first coined by Ian Williams, M.D. for the website  Michael J. Green, M.D. and Kimberly R. Myers. Ph.D. later acknowledged the term in an article published in BMJ:  Green, Michael J., & Myers, Kimberly R. (2010). Graphic medicine: Use of comics in medical education and patient care. British Medical Journal, 340(7746), 574.  

"Some healthcare professionals—especially those working in public health, with young people, or with non-native speakers—have begun to use graphic stories for patient care and education. One reason this practice is not more widespread is probably because most doctors have not considered its merits. We believe that graphic stories have an important role in patient care, medical education, and the social critique of the medical profession."   

The field of Graphic Medicine has continued to grow in popularity and size as new work is published and new applications for the work are explored. The International Comics and Medicine Conference meets annually, gathering clinicians, academics, health carers, artists, authors, and fans of comics and medicine.

Just as there are many genres of books and film, there are many genres of comics and graphic novels: fiction, non-fiction, memoir. They may be funny, sad, informative, provocative, outrageous. Stories may be published in print or on the web, as a book, a series, or a single comic strip.  Some illustrations are elaborate and detailed while others are quite simple. But they all use visual storytelling to connect with the reader in some way. 

Further Reading