August 4, 2021
Jorge Muniz, PA-C, Helps Make Learning Complex Medical Topics Fun
December 11, 2020
By Dave Anderson
Flash cards, study groups, and practice exams are just a few of the many tried-and-true strategies students use to help improve comprehension. But for some scholars, the non-traditional methods can often be the most effective.
Back when he was a PA student at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, Jorge Muniz, PA-C, took a slightly different approach. He infused his studies with one of his life-long passions: drawing.
Initially, he would draw several short comic strips that humorously depicted topics he was learning about in his PA program. In addition to each comic strip, he would also create a larger illustration featuring more details and educational elements corresponding to that particular disease or medical condition.
“At that time, I only did it as a fun way to help myself study,” Muniz said. “I had no intention of taking it much further – much less, publishing anything. But the positive feedback I received from my fellow PA students encouraged me to keep drawing.”
The creative juices flowed even stronger in his second year of PA school. It was during his pediatric rotations when he found inspiration for one of his first “Medcomic” drawings which illustrated the differences between rubeola, rubella, and roseola. As he continued his rotations, the ideas kept coming for additional illustrations covering topics such as diabetes, pneumonia, jaundice, and many more.
“Most of my drawings are derived from my own experiences,” Muniz said. “Each [illustration] focuses on a subject that can often be confusing from the student perspective. But the colorful imagery along with some key pearls of text and a bit of humor help to make learning complex medical topics fun and easy.”
Within two years, Muniz had completed nearly 100 illustrations. He eventually decided to self-publish his first book, even without having any previous publishing experience.
“These days, you don’t have to go through a big publishing company,” he said. “If you have the content, you can self-publish your own work relatively easily, either through Amazon or other companies like IngramSpark, which is what I did.”
But this was just the beginning for Muniz. He went on to create a total of three editions of “The Medcomic Book”— with the latest edition containing 160 illustrations—as well as a supplemental “Medcomic Coloring Book.” He also authored and illustrated additional titles including two editions of “Sparkson’s Illustrated Guide to ECG Interpretation” and “The Pocket H&P” reference guide to performing a physical exam.
Time and Dedication
Working as a full-time PA by day and an author-illustrator by night, Muniz acknowledges each book required a great deal of effort and sacrifice—but none more so than his EKG book.
He was working in internal medicine when he started on his EKG book and admits he “didn’t feel exactly like an expert on the subject [of EKGs].” So out of sheer interest, Muniz devoted himself—and his career—to the topic, switching fields to join a cardiology group and work as an electrophysiology PA.
“In a way, it was like I was a method actor, diving into the world of what they want to portray,” Muniz said. “That’s pretty much what I did in the world of cardiology, which is why that EKG book is very special to me. It was such a big part of my life for a while.”
For two years, Muniz devoted nearly all of his spare time to his EKG illustrations. Each day, he would draw a bit in the morning before going to work, a little more during his lunch break, and then all evening when he got home. Often times, he’d spend entire weekends just drawing.
“He definitely puts a lot of himself into his work because he deeply cares about accurately representing the patient and their experiences,” said Harrison Reed, PA-C, an assistant professor of PA studies at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “He spent a lot of time and effort in refining his craft, and that says a lot about his character and how he approaches his work.”
Though Muniz takes his work very seriously, he still finds ways to let his humor shine through. Reed notes that there is a fine line between having fun with something and making fun of something, but that Muniz skillfully stays on the right side of that line.
“Jorge does what really good educators do, and that’s break down really complex topics into bite-size pieces of visually stimulating information that can be quickly absorbed,” Reed said. “It’s really inspiring to see how [his books] have taken off.”
Following his exhaustive efforts in creating the EKG book, Muniz, who now practices family medicine at Primary HealthCare Associates in Orlando, says he is taking a break from his Medcomic illustrations. But he continues to find other creative outlets he can adapt to medicine.
As one of his latest side projects, he and a physician friend started co-creating animated music videos to teach medical concepts. Muniz says the music videos, which can be viewed on his YouTube channel, were created purely for fun. However, he finds real joy in discovering yet another art form he can use to educate and inspire others.
Above all, he’s grateful to have chosen a career that afforded him the flexibility to further develop his interests—both personal and professional.
“Pursuing a career in healthcare can be very demanding, but it doesn’t mean you have to abandon any of your hobbies or other passions outside of medicine,” Muniz said. “Providers have the opportunity to combine their others passions – whether it’s art, music, or something else entirely—with medicine and potentially create something new and impactful.”
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