Posts tagged ‘Humanities’

Comics and Medicine: Helping Med Students Form Their Professional Identities

Reading and creating health-themed comics helps medical students transition from laypersons to physicians, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis at Penn State College of Medicine. Researchers found that integrating comics into a medical school humanities program allowed students to reflect on the formation of their professional identities and fostered cognitive and behavioral skills needed to be good doctors.

Comics created by fourth-year medical students.

Comics created by fourth-year medical students.

Comics might not seem like required reading for medical students, but that’s just what’s on the syllabus for a unique course taught at Penn State College of Medicine. The class, called Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives, is offered to fourth-year students through the college’s Department of Humanities.

Michael Green, a professor of humanities and medicine, began teaching the month-long course six years ago. To date, 58 medical students have taken his seminar-style elective. The book-length graphic narratives Green selected for reading and discussion include both true and fictional accounts of patients and their loved ones dealing with illness. As the course progresses, his students create their own comic around a formative experience from medical school. Along the way, creative exercises stimulate reflection and help the students refine their drawing and writing skills.

Green’s new analysis, based on student surveys collected since the course began, found that reading and creating comics helps students with practical doctoring skills, such as experiencing more empathy, noticing non-verbal communication and being more aware of how they are seen by patients. He published his results in Academic Medicine.

Students’ comics generally express five themes: how I found my niche, the medical student as patient, reflections on a transformative experience, connecting with a patient and the triumphs and challenges of becoming a doctor.

(more…)

May 21, 2015 at 8:30 am 1 comment

Shapiro, Saunders appointed to leadership roles at Penn State Hershey

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has elevated two faculty members to key leadership positions: Dr. Dan Shapiro will serve as vice dean for faculty and administrative affairs, and Dr. Erika Saunders has been named chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Dan Shapiro

Dr. Dan Shapiro

Shapiro, currently chair of the Department of Humanities, will continue in that role as he also serves in the vice dean position. One of his priorities will be elevating the culture of respect at Penn State Hershey. He will also serve as a liaison between the dean’s office and search committees for department chairs.

Shapiro, the Garner James Cline Professor of Humanities in Medicine, joined Penn State Hershey in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Florida and went on to Harvard Medical School, where he completed an internship and an endowed post-doctoral fellowship. A psychologist, Shapiro’s writings about physician-patient relationships and physician wellness have appeared in the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Academic Medicine, as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered and other outlets. He is an award-winning author of three books, has served as a consultant for the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” and has also held two professorships from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Dr. Erika Saunders

Dr. Erika Saunders

Saunders, who has served as interim psychiatry chair since December, is director of the Mood Disorders Program and an associate professor of psychiatry. She is also an adjunct research investigator with the Department of Psychiatry and Depression Center at the University of Michigan. Saunders came to Penn State Hershey in 2008 as an assistant professor of psychiatry. She received her undergraduate education from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from the University of Iowa. She completed a Howard Hughes Research Fellowship at Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School and residency training in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and she was awarded a Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fellowship. Saunders’ work has been recognized nationally, and she has been accepted to speak about her work to the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and the American Psychiatric Association. She is a member of the American College of Psychiatrists and is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Saunders is active in medical student and resident education, and was awarded a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Psychiatry Resident’s Teaching Award. She succeeds Dr. Alan Gelenberg, who retired from the organization in December after five years as department chair.

April 21, 2015 at 6:44 am Leave a comment

A comic look at important issues in medicine and medical training

Gandhi-1

Comic created by Jonathan Ghandi

This week, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a graphic narrative by Penn State College of Medicine professor Dr. Michael Green. It marks the first time a clinically oriented medical journal has published a comic.

The comic, which Green created in collaboration with freelance illustrator Ray Rieck, addresses a question that many new doctors face – when to trust others and when to rely on their own judgment.

Dr. Christine Laine, editor-in-chief of Annals of Internal Medicine, said the journal had been considering using the graphic story format as a new way to present selected case reports at about the same time that Green submitted his piece.

“We found it a compelling way to highlight some of the issues covered in a series on patient safety that we had in the works,” she said. “We decided that publishing it would be a good way to draw attention to that series and see how readers react to the graphic story format.”

Green, who has been teaching a course on comics and medicine to fourth-year medical students for several years, believes in the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

He sees graphic storytelling as an effective way to communicate a complicated subject and anticipates it will be well-received in the medical community. (more…)

March 8, 2013 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

The Department of Humanities: Once a ‘curiosity,’ now an ‘awakening’

When medical students from Penn State College of Medicine  make their Friday call at the Downtown Daily Bread soup kitchen in Harrisburg, it’s more than an exercise in providing counsel and comfort to the homeless. The brainchild of professor Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., this outreach illustrates one way the institution reaches “far beyond our boundaries,” according to Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Humanities at the College of Medicine.

The students’ service is part of a larger goal of the Department of Humanities and the College of Medicine to produce compassionate healers, or, as Shapiro says, “clinicians and scholars who are not only technologically sophisticated but also sophisticated about matters of the human body, mind, and spirit.”

Humanities historical marker photo

Click to view large image

The Department of Humanities at Penn State Hershey has been a model for other medical schools. Founded in 1967, the College of Medicine is young by medical school standards. But it’s also a pioneer as the first U.S. medical school with a Department of Humanities, a fixture since its inception. “This department has really been a springboard for founding other kinds of programs and centers and departments in many medical schools across the country,” says Philip Wilson, Ph.D., historian of medicine and science and professor of humanities.“What was first a curiosity became an awakening.” The founder of the Department of Humanities is considered a pioneer in humanistic medicine—E. A.Vastyan, who died in 2010 in Harrisburg. Vastyan was an Episcopal priest and chaplain at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston when founding Dean, George Harrell, recruited him to Hershey. “The fact that this institution was founded with a humanities department is one piece of data to support that that mission has been incorporated into the heart of the place from the start,” says Shapiro. (more…)

February 13, 2012 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Beyond superheroes: Comics as a new genre for medical storytelling

Comics in medicine classPenn State College of Medicine may be the only place in the country where a fourth year medical student can take an elective Humanities course about comics titled “Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives.” But before you snort derisively, listen to Michael Green, M.D., professor in the Departments of Humanities and Medicine, explain why he created this course.

“Most people think comics are juvenile, silly, and frivolous, that it’s only about superheroes or funny cartoons,” Green said. “But I’m teaching about a specific, growing genre of graphic narratives that tell incredibly moving stories about serious topics.”

Even within this broad category, there is a growing number of individuals creating memoir-type stories related to medical issues–for instance, patients telling stories about their illnesses, medical providers sharing their experiences, and family members providing their perspectives on healthcare. As Green sees it, his course offers students an opportunity to learn and explore themes relevant to the practice of medicine. (more…)

January 19, 2012 at 8:36 am 1 comment

The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine

Some people claim that with the rapid growth of technological medicine, the patients’ perspective of their illness and care has been neglected. The Center for Humanistic Medicine (CHM) at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was founded in 1979 to promote ways to restore and enhance care that is both compassionate and technically excellent, emphasizing every patient’s individual needs.

In 1985, the work of the CHM blossomed when Drs. Lawrence F. and Jane Witmer Kienle of Medford, New Jersey, generously decided to provide continuing financial support. Following the death of Dr. Jane Kienle is 1991, the CHM was renamed The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine to recognize the contributions of both Doctors Kienle. The Kienles also supported the development of The Doctors Kienle Chair for Humane Medicine, a position currently held by Dr. J.O. Ballard.

The ongoing mission of The Doctors Kienle Center is to support, facilitate, and initiate education and research that will render the delivery of healthcare more humane, both locally and nationally. This work has flourished with the support of representatives from many departments throughout Penn State Hershey Medical Center and with that from volunteers in the hospital, medical school, and community.

December 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment


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