Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Professional Development Award Report: Midwest Chapter/MLA 2019 Deborah Ruck


Midwest Chapter/MLA & WHSLA & SWHSL Annual Meeting

I attended the Midwest Chapter/MLA Annual Meeting in October 2019 with the generous financial support of a $500 WHSLA stipend award.  This was one of the best Midwest Chapter Meetings I have ever attended because of the timeliness of the program and poster topics, authoritative and interesting speakers, diversity of exhibitors, and excellent conference venue.

In this blog post I would like to focus on two of the presentations I attended.

Keynote Address
The Keynote address given by MK Czerwiec, RN, MA aka Comic Nurse, was illuminating and moving.  She spoke of how she began drawing as a way to cope with her grief after one of her AIDs patients died.  Since then MK has authored 8 graphic medicine comic books and is currently working on an anthology of comics about menopause to be published in Spring 2020 and a graphic medicine memoir about caring for her mother and aunt.

MK explained that comics are used because of the effectiveness of the medium as a powerful teaching/learning tool when there is a high density of information, a high level of importance, and high stress involved.  Storytelling in this way can help us heal, move past barriers, and bear witness to other’s stories.  For example, see Mom’s Cancer, Marbles, and My Degeneration.  MK is the co-manager of GraphicMedicine.org, a site that provides links to author and artist sites, online articles, comic sites, blogs, comic reviews, podcasts, conference information and much more.

Social Determinants of Health: From the Patient to the Community and Beyond Panel Presentation

Anne Getzin, MD, a family physician with Advocate Aurora Health, gave a very passionate presentation, Health Equity and the Patient Experience, about her experiences providing prenatal care and delivery of babies via the Aurora Midtown Health Center near 60th and Capitol in Milwaukee.  She stressed the importance of providing equitable healthcare at the level of need required.  She mentioned the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) The Everyone Project which “focuses on providing family physicians and their practice teams with education and resources, advocating for health equity, promoting workforce diversity, and collaborating with other disciplines and organizations to advance health equity.”

Dr. Getzin said that her patients experience bias all of the time in their lives.  Her patients have conditions such as hypoglycemia, hypertension, and lead poisoning.  She is doing a research study on the impact of lead exposure during pregnancy and advocates for the necessity of testing women for lead poisoning.

She does centering pregnancy and parenting programs, which are 2-hour doctor visits in a group setting at a local Family Resource Center.  They talk about health maintenance topics to help decrease the numbers of low birthweight babies and infant mortality.  Often the group meetings result in the women supporting each other in ways she could never do.  For example, a mother provided her cell phone number to another mother who had difficulty affording baby formula and told her to call at any time for help rather than considering stealing formula from a grocery store.  The Family Resource Center has a food pantry; they also screen for food insecurity and provide $20 vouchers for the Fondy Farmers Market nearby.

Deborah Ruck
Information Resources Librarian
Medical College of Wisconsin Libraries