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MedSpeak Illuminated

The Art and Practice of Medical Illustration

Francois I. Luks

The Kent State University Press

Guiding us to better communication about illness, treatment, and health through simple art practices

Living at the intersection of medicine and art, medical illustration is a field that is not well understood by most—especially by physicians and other healthcare practitioners. In this comprehensive and practical guide to medical illustration, pediatric surgeon François I. Luks provides a useful overview of the field and explains its essential function in facilitating true communication between healthcare providers and their patients.

MedSpeak Illuminated: The Art and Practice of Medical Illustration begins with a history of the field, including some of its historical controversies and darker aspects, such as the relative lack of diversity in medical illustrations. Currently, Luks asserts, an increased recognition that medical illustration has long been complicit in promoting a single (white, male) view of health and disease has begun to result in changes to practice and content. He argues that increasing diversity and equity—in illustration and among illustrators—is ultimately good for our health. As he moves forward to describe its place in our current healthcare systems and educational programs, Luks also points to the scientific breakthroughs specifically made by illustrators. In addition, he highlights trends in medical education that emphasize humanism and compassion, thus making the need for better methods of communication even more urgent.

MedSpeak Illuminated offers simple advice and techniques that can be followed by even the nonartists among us to use illustration in medical settings as part of our conversations. Like the illuminated manuscripts of old, MedSpeak Illuminated provides visual components for better and deeper understanding, an invaluable resource for students, practitioners, and all those committed to becoming better communicators and more caring professionals.

Author Bio
François I. Luks is professor of surgery at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and pediatric surgeon-in-chief at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. As a medical student, he drew a daily comic strip for several newspapers and later started to illustrate some of his own research publications, then those of colleagues. MedSpeak Illuminated grew out of the full semester course in medical illustration he teaches for undergraduate students at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.