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AAPM&R National Grand Rounds: Art and Medicine

Faculty: Jason S. Bitterman, MD
Moderator: Karen P. Barr, MD

How do healthcare providers find creativity in their day-to-day work? Medicine can sometimes feel rote and dehumanizing. However, patient care often benefits from seeing things from a humanistic and creative point of view. We may become more empathetic and stronger providers if we can find ways to better reflect on and share our experiences.

This presentation aims to introduce attendees to narrative medicine and “Graphic Medicine”, a new arts movement in which healthcare providers and patients use visual arts and comics to express and share their experiences. A large portion of this presentation will be interactive, as participants will be guided through different “Graphic Medicine” exercises. We will teach participants how to take advantage of many aspects of visual arts and cartooning, including light and shadow, different art styles, color, and humor.

Some examples of the exercises may be:
  • Drawing two cartoon portraits, one of how attendees saw themselves when they first started medical training, and another of how they see themselves today
  • Creating a 3-panel comic strip about a frustrating day
  • Give participants a short, relatively ambiguous prompt (such as “Doctor, your new patient is here”) and have them each illustrate the prompt on their own. Participants then share their drawings (if they are comfortable) to see how differently people interpreted and illustrated the prompt.
Part of this instruction and the exercises is to get participants comfortable drawing regardless of their skill level. Anyone can be an artist. The skills taught in this presentation can then be applied to medical education (as some trainees may enjoy processing their experiences through art), to patient care (as there is a growing number of published “Graphic Medicine” books and websites related to different disorders, which may be shared with patients looking to read about others’ experiences), and personally (as some attendees may continue to create art to reflect on their experiences).

Jason S. Bitterman, MD’s background: I am a physiatrist who, in my spare time, draws comics about working in healthcare. My work challenges the narrative of physicians as all-knowing, calm and collected authorities, usually using humor to illustrate some of the absurdities of medicine. I have also created comics with a more serious tone, such as a comic about opioid addiction which won the AMA Journal of Ethics Arts and Medicine award.

Learning Objectives Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
  • Recognize topics of broad or in-depth focus that physiatrists of all specializations need to apply to their practice
  • Discuss the latest evidence, research and best practices within the physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) field
  • Define and use current techniques, procedures and research to improve physician practice and quality of patient care
Availability: On-Demand
Expires on Mar 31, 2025
Cost: Member: $10.00
Non-Member: $25.00
Resident Member: $10.00
Resident Non-Member: $25.00
Credit Offered:
1 CME Credit
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