Researchers at the University of Toronto are using graphic novels in medical classrooms to teach future doctors about humanizing illness.
In addition to the stalwart Manual of Clinical Oncology, medical students may soon see the comic book Cancer Vixen: A True Story on their required reading list.
Researchers are using graphic novels as a teaching tool to communicate the ethical and emotional complexities of illness, disease and trauma to medical students.
With their self-effacing protagonists and cutting black humour, graphic novels often capture the reality of being sick, or knowing a loved one who is, better than dry textbooks and earnest self-help memoirs.
“Cartoons and comics were dismissed as a trivial medium, but we realize now they are extremely sophisticated,” says Allan Peterkin, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “It’s about that interplay between the words and the text. You’re using different parts of the brain to read carefully, just as you’re doing to diagnose in the clinic.”