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Tufts Health Communication » Digital Health Communication, Health Messaging » Master’s in Health Communication a Laughing Matter for Cartoonist

Master’s in Health Communication a Laughing Matter for Cartoonist


I didn’t expect that grad school would be a step on my path to becoming a better cartoonist, but here I am! I’m finishing up my master’s degree in health communication, and the Tufts program has been exactly what I needed.

I’m an indie cartoonist and a member of the local comics collective Boston Comics Roundtable. I’m also an employee at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a few years ago, I started introducing healthcare themes into my comics. Then I attended the Comics & Medicine Conference, and it really lit the fire in me! Since then, I’ve created wellness comics for Mass General’s DiabetesViews blog and for personal projects like Mindful Drinking (about applying mindfulness to alcohol use).

Comics are such a great fit for healthcare: the engaging images, the storytelling, the potential for reaching readers of different health literacy levels and language skills, and so much more. They aren’t limited to patient education, either; they’ve been used for medical narratives, exploring ethics, and personal expression by both patients and clinicians. You can read more at Graphic Medicine, the go-to website for comics and healthcare/medicine.

I chose the Tufts Health Communication Program because I wanted a more solid grounding in medicine, science, and behavior change. I don’t want to be just the artist of my healthcare comics; I want to take an active role in researching and understanding the medical information that goes into them. I wanted to be a better health education writer as well, and Tufts’ classes in writing, health literacy, and adult learning really appealed to me.

So what’s next on my path? Right now, I’m planning a comics-based project for my program’s Applied Learning Experience (ALE) and thinking ahead to book-length projects that I could tackle when I’ve finished this degree. I’m also considering research on interventions involving comics; clinicians constantly seek more evidence to show that comics can help to create better outcomes. In the meantime, though, I’m going to carry on spreading the word at comics festivals like the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), and I’m looking forward to announcements about the 2015 Comics & Medicine Conference (next July in Riverside, CA)!

Cathy Leamy is a student in the Tufts Master of Science in Health Communication program. See more of Cathy’s comics on her blog


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2 Responses to "Master’s in Health Communication a Laughing Matter for Cartoonist"

  1. Cathy, let’s get together in the New Year to talk about comics in public health! The last lecture of my class, Writing about Health and Medicine, was about this exciting topic.

  2. Kate Perch says:

    Cathy, thanks for a great post. Check out this comic book on health reform. I’ve used it as a public health professional but it can also be used for patient or provider education.

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