Testing the Waters

As I posted last week, I am doing a series on integrating graphic medicine into the workplace. I am starting with Testing the Waters, which is all about gathering information. What is the current state of affairs at your institution? This post will guide you in acquiring the necessary details. You will use these details to determine the best pieces of the Advocacy Toolkit and how to present them to your workplace. The Advocacy Toolkit will include evidence, examples, and suggestions for convincing decision makers how awesome graphic medicine is. Look out for that post next Tuesday! 

Graphic medicine includes comics about health and the study of comics about health. For more information, check out a previous post, “What is Graphic Medicine?

Child with toes in the water

How to Test the Waters

  • Get a feel for decision makers’ attitude toward comics.
  • Determine what matters to them (health, empathy, money, people, etc). This will likely be more than one thing.
  • Determine the best avenue(s) to get the toolkit to them.
  • Find out who your allies are.
  • Create allies.
  • Include as many people as possible in determining the best pathway. 

Get a feel for  the decision makers’ attitude toward comics

It’s best to start off with those with whom you have direct communication with. This may be your direct supervisor. Note how they react when you introduce the idea of graphic medicine. Do they want to know more? Are they hesitant or dismissive? How much evidence will this require regarding the usefulness of graphic medicine for your institution? Here are a few suggestions about how to do this:

  • Mention graphic medicine in casual conversation or bring it up in a small meeting.
    • Have you heard of graphic medicine? 
    • I read an interesting comic the other day about [specific health topic]. 
  • Mention you have an avenue for introducing something new, especially if they are asking for ideas.
  • Pass around a comic strip. Or post a link to a webcomic. Or post a comic strip using social media.
  • Bring up another workplace similar to yours that has integrated graphic medicine, especially if it is highly regarded.
  • Mention the Graphic Medicine Collection of the National Library of Medicine, the Annals of Internal Medicine special graphic medicine series, or other mainstream example of graphic medicine media attention.

Determine what matters to them

You might already have a good idea of whether decision makers will be receptive to graphic medicine. If not, hopefully the previous step has been helpful. One important way to bring people further on board with graphic medicine is to connect it to the things they are already focused on. Here are some indicators to consider:

  • Have they been open to innovative ideas in the past? 
  • Do you already know of someone with an interest in comics? In health humanities? 
  • What motivates them to change? 
  • How do they conduct business? Are they most focused on the bottom line, efficiency, community building, or something else?

The more you know about what they are interested in, the better your chances of success in introducing graphic medicine at your institution. 

Determine your best avenue(s) of approach

Once you know what matters to your audience, you need to find a way to get their attention. As before, understanding what they value will be key. These are some of the things you should know when considering how to make contact:

  • What is/are the indicator(s) that they pay attention to most? 
  • How do they normally receive new ideas (email, phone call, face-to-face meeting, etc)? 
  • Is there a way you or someone else has introduced a new concept that has worked in the past? 

The answers should provide you with information for a gameplan to effectively introduce graphic medicine to decision makers. That said, any message works better when multiple voices are sharing it.

Find out who your allies are & create new ones

Many of the tools in the sections about ‘getting a feel for the decision makers’ attitudes about comics’ and ‘determining what matters to them’ will also be how you find your allies. While those sections focused on decision makers, allies can come from all levels of management within your institution. Allies are a necessary part of this endeavor. Collect them all! Recruit your colleagues. If you serve people (patrons, patients, clients, customers, etc), gather testimonials and other signs of interest. You can call on these allies as a proof of concept for decision makers. 

Once you have introduced the Advocacy Toolkit (which I will discuss next week) to someone, you can introduce them to the wonders of graphic medicine. Now you have an ally. Depending on how far down the decision making ladder you are, you might have many more steps in convincing people, or your work may be well on its way! The higher up the decision ladder, the higher level the priorities to the institution. The more graphic medicine can meet those priorities, the more success you may have. They might have to table good ideas because of time, money, and manpower issues.

Next week I will be helping you create your own unique Advocacy Toolkit. Let me know what you think! Comment or get in touch with me on Twitter @AJaggers324 or Instagram @AJaggers324, like and subscribe. Also if you would like to support me financially, you can go to patreon.com/ajaggers324.

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