The Art of Surviving Medical Training: An Illustrated Journey

Ryan Syrek, MA


April 25, 2019

Learning From the Digital Drawing Board

Dr Armando Hasudungan's fondest memories of childhood aren't of family vacations, but weekends at home spent drawing with his sister. Throughout his early education, he was "more of an artsy student." "I didn't enroll in any sciences subjects in my final 2 years of high school," he explained. "When I decided to get a bachelor's degree in biomedical science, I found it challenging and boring to read and listen to lectures." Once more, he turned to his lifelong hobby and comfort.

Hasudungan found that textbook illustrations and images he found online helped demystify the challenging material. Soon, he was no longer just googling illustrations; he was making "diagrams and mind maps" to help him process the content. He began sharing them around 6 years ago, and his audience has exploded. His YouTube channel has more than 1 million subscribers, and his videos have been watched more than 72 million times. Watching one, it is easy to understand why.

Hasudungan's nonchalant narration and graffiti-esque illustration break down everything from the basics of anatomy and physiology to more complicated topics, such as biochemistry and immunology. His process is simple: "I read a topic, translate the information into a diagram, explain the diagram by narrating over it, and then finally listen back to the whole video and edit it." Engaging with various different learning techniques is a well-recognized and validated way to process and retain complicated information. Hasudungan's videos engage most reputable techniques. "It is no secret that illustrations can help communicate complicated concepts in a summarized manner."

Like Stewart, Hasudungan has found his artistic talents also help bridge the information gap, now that he's interacting with patients. "Some cases are a bit complicated, and I think visualizing really helps. With these patients, trying to draw out the condition and its sequelae is helpful." These exchanges at the point of care reiterate how much deeper illustrated learning can be, moving beyond memorization and regurgitation.

More than just a tool, art remains an escape for Hasudungan as well. "Aside from the videos, I am a fan of typography. I love creating personalized cards. I also have respect for graffiti artists and do a bit of graffiti on paper on the side. Personally, I would love to create a mural one day." Hasudungan encourages students to not only watch the videos he makes but also try their own hand at illustrations. "If someone creates a mind map or their own diagram, this would also help structure a topic into something that makes sense to them."

If it turns out they have a knack for it, he's also open to new contributors. "If there is anyone is interested in doing biomedical illustrations or science communication, send me a short bio!"

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