How the Glaucomfleckens are Humanizing Medicine, One Laugh at a Time
Harry Glorikian: Hello. I’m Harry Glorikian. And now for something completely different – humanizing medicine!
Usually the guests we bring on the show talk about how technology is changing healthcare. But today’s guests, Will and Kristin Flanary, are changing healthcare in a very different way – by humanizing medicine through comedy.
Will Flanary is a former standup comic who trained as an ophthalmologist and runs a successful ophthalmology practice in Oregon City, Oregon. But he’s better known by his alter ego “Dr. Glaucomflecken.”
His short videos that are humanizing medicine get shared all across social media and have millions of views on YouTube and TikTok. They feature a cast of quirky characters, all played by Will himself, who lightly satirize medical culture and the idiosyncracies of the US healthcare system.
[Clip from Dr. Glaucomflecken “Be Nice to the Interns”]
Faculty head: Thank you for coming to the faculty meeting. The new interns start next week, so I need everybody to be nice
Surgery: What are you looking at me for?
Emergency: Dude. You know exactly why he’s looking at you.
Surgery: Whatever, Emergency. Interns are more scared of you than me.
Faculty head: Surgery, you personally are responsible for a 300% increase in burnout over the last 5 years.
Surgery: Oh come on. I’m not that bad.
Psych: Bad enough they published it in the New England Journal.
Surgery: Hey, Psych, why don’t you go read the DSM and let the doctors speak.
Psych: Sure, you know they have your picture in their, right? Surgical personality disorder.
Harry Glorikian: The medical news publication STAT calls Will “the Internet’s funniest doctor.” And now Will and his wife Kristin, aka Lady Glaucomflecken, have a hybrid comedy and interview podcast called “Knock, Knock, Hi” where they bring on guests who share their own weird and hilarious medical stories.
If you wanted to find a comparably successful crossover between medicine and comedy, you’d probably have to go all the way back to TV shows like M*A*S*H and Scrubs.
But as funny as Will and Kristin’s comedy work can be, it comes from a pretty serious place. Will’s been on the patient side of medical care. He survived two bouts of testicular cancer. And in May of 2020, after WIll went into cardiac arrest, Kristin saved his life by administering CPR until emergency medical technicians could arrive and rush him to the hospital, where surgeons implanted a defibrillator.
It was a nightmare experience. But Flanary’s collision after the surgery with the health insurance bureaucracy may have been even worse. All of it became grist for his comedy sketches. That’s what gives them the power of humanizing medicine through their videos.
And today the Glaucomfleckens videos and podcast range across topics like what goes on behind the scenes in emergency rooms, how oncologists deliver bad news, or why doctors in different specialties sometimes have a hard time communicating.
I think there’s a basic insight behind Will and Kristin’s work. It’s that in a country where the healthcare system often feels so broken and so full of crazy personalities, sometimes you just have to laugh. Their brand of humor helps to show the human side of medicine in a way that’s all too often hidden from view. It’s a real breath of fresh air. In fact, it’s one of the few pieces of content that is humanizing medicine.
So I was delighted to get a chance to talk with Will and Kristin. If you aren’t already among their followers, I highly recommend that you look up Dr. Glaucomflecken on YouTube or TikTok and subscribe to “Knock Knock Hi” wherever you get your podcasts.
Harry Glorikian: Will, Kristin, welcome to the show.
Will Flanary: Thank you. It’s so good to be here.
Kristin Flanary: Thank you for having us.
Harry Glorikian: So it’s funny when when, when when you guys reached out, I was like, really? I was trying to figure out, like, how do I… But this is going to be a great show because I was thinking like, I’ve, I’ve not had someone that straddles both sides of the world, being medical and entertainment, on the show. But let me let me step back one, and I’m sure you guys get this question from everyone, but what is a glaucomflecken, if I’m pronouncing it correctly.
Will Flanary: Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty good. I’m impressed. You know, if I knew it would turn into this, I would have chosen something easier, so. But, no, glaucomflecken is an actual thing in ophthalmology. So I have a lot of people that think my real name is Glaucomflecken. And that would be a very strange thing. And so I’m not going to bore you with the details, but it’s a finding in a specific type of glaucoma. You get this thing, these little spots inside the eye. And so it’s a whole area. It’s not funny at all. Just I was when I was coming up with my online persona, I wanted to come up with the like, what was the most ridiculous word in ophthalmology? And fortunately, ophthalmology is full of silly words. And so I had a lot of options to choose from, and I just went with block of block.
Harry Glorikian: So because I was I’m like, Oh my God, by the end of the show, I should be able to pronounce that really well, because I’m going to have to say it a few times, I’m sure. But it’s really fun to have you both on the show. I mean, because it’s interesting, right? Most of the time my guests are talking about some complex heavy topics like the role of AI and drug discovery or how to screen more newborns for genetic disorders or how wearable devices are going to change diabetes care and stuff like that. Right. So this is the first time, as I said, where I’ve had guests that have sort of one foot in the medical world and another foot in comedy and entertainment, which is really sort of cool to play both sides. But but so for the benefit of the listeners who may have never seen your skit, which I think is hard, can you start by giving us sort of the kinds of things your comedy is about, the characters you play? You know, what’s something from the medical world that you’ve noticed recently that you were able to turn into a joke or a skit and. What is it that’s so inherently funny to you about the world of medicine? In other words, what made you so good at humanizing medicine?
Will Flanary: Well. Well, this is a little awkward because I came prepared to talk about A.I. and neonatal genetics. But I can. I can switch gears here, and that’s fine. That’s totally fine. Yeah. So, you know, there’s not a lot of people that are in both worlds of medicine. You know, you have people that were doctors or still are doctors, but now don’t practice like Kent Jeong. I’m not putting myself on that level. But, you know, people that have left medicine to pursue entertainment. They are the ones humanizing medicine. So I think it’s more common for people to pick one or the other. But I do still try to straddle both worlds. And and obviously, that’s reflected in my my comedy. So I started out, I have a standup background mostly as an amateur. You know, I made a little bit of money doing it, like in med school and residency. But for the most part, it’s been a hobby for me. And then once I got too busy with medicine, I transitioned into social media, calling myself Doctor Glaucomflecken and starting this journey of humanizing medicine. And really, I used it as a creative outlet to tell jokes and to because I, you know, at the time I was in Iowa, which is not exactly a standup comedy hotbed. So, you know, I used I used social media as a surrogate for standup.
Will Flanary: And then it just over the years, it snowballed and the pandemic hit. And I started making videos on TikTok. And that’s when it really blew up, because everybody was on social media, Everybody was online. And and all of a sudden, you know, people were consuming content so rapidly that, you know, my my skits, my all the things I was doing was was being discovered by people. And so and basically what I do is I well, I mean, it’s going to sound a little strange, but I dress up as different characters in medicine and I poke fun at some of the interpersonal conflicts in medicine all these different specialties and how they interact with each other and also how the medical system treats health care professionals and with health insurance and even academic publishing and all these different areas. And so there’s a little bit of education thrown in there, but I disguise it as comedy and try humanizing medicine. And so and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years, is making these short videos, these short video clips. And yeah, it’s it’s and I also we incorporate in all the stuff where we do incorporate our our, our own background, our own history, my medical history, things that we’ve encountered together in our life that’s kind of sprinkled into all of this.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah. And, you know, because I was thinking about it and I’m like, All right, so how would I categorize the comedy? It’s, you know, I think of it as, as, you know, satiric comedy when I watch it, right. But you’re always like you say, you’re always zooming in on some aspect of the health care industry that feels broken, how hard it is necessarily for patients to deal with the insurance system, which, again, broken. And how horribly, you know, medical students and new doctors are treated. Right. But and so I’m assuming all of this, as you said, comes from personal experience. Right. Because I know you’ve gone through I think you went through your own if I did my homework correctly, pretty extreme medical crisis in your own life. So it puts you on the patient’s side, you kno. What would you say is the benefit of of satire or humor in in a dark situation.
Will Flanary: You know, it’s some of some of the content I do. It’s just straight up, just jokes and trying to make people laugh. But really, it’s been over the past year or so when I’ve really tried to focus in on some of the issues, the problems we have in our and our health care system. I see it as a form of advocacy, honestly, because a lot of these things are not, you know, evident to most people. And what is a pharmacy benefit manager? What does prior authorizations mean? And whenever you, these are boring topics like by themselves, right? Like for like a non-medical audience, like the most people wouldn’t care. But when you when you combine it with humor, then all of a sudden you get people listening and it’s almost like I’m tricking people into learning what a pharmacy benefit manager is. And they’re like, And then they come away with it like, Well, that was funny. I liked watching that and I didn’t I had no idea that that was a problem. And so I think that by approaching these things with with a lens of humor, you reach more people. And that’s why I view it as a form of advocacy to shed light on some of these topics. And it’s worked out pretty well. And also just the humor aspect of it. In a time when health care workers are more burnt out than ever, you know, I can’t tell you how many the feedback I’ve gotten from people just like, Oh man, it’s so nice to just laugh at something at the end of a long day. And that’s been throughout the pandemic, and it’s really been a motivation to help keep me going with this.
Harry Glorikian: Well, the funny thing is, is when you do know what those things are and you you laugh even harder because you’re like, you know exactly how broken the system is. Right. But. The Glaucomflecken extended universe. And I’m going to tongue tie myself at some point saying that and later on and just say, isn’t your, like you had mentioned, it’s not your first foray into entertainment. So I mean, you’ve had experiences, I think performing, directing, writing, editing before you started these sketches in 2016.
Will Flanary: Yeah, mostly. Mostly just writing, you know, writing my own comedy, my own standup. I mean, you know, Kristin helps me out with it to she, you know, she’s heard all my jokes. And so she can she gives me feedback on what’s funny and what’s not. So I give a lot of credit to her as well.
Harry Glorikian: She’s better than my wife. My wife will cut me off. “I’ve heard that one.”
Will Flanary: Yeah. Yeah. So, so it’s, you know, so I do have a little bit, but I’ve learned a lot on especially the editing process and how to, you know, because I do have some, I have comedic timing, but then when you’re talking about a video and now I’m like, not only video, but I’m recording myself talking to myself, then you have to figure out like how to edit it and and make it flow and seem like it’s more than one person. So yeah, it’s been a learning process.
Harry Glorikian: So do you think like your the standup work you did in college prep you for, I mean YouTube? TikTok.
Will Flanary: Yeah, Yeah, I think so. I don’t know, have I gotten better at jokes.
Kristin Flanary: Yeah.
Will Flanary: [Laughs]
Kristin Flanary: And they’ve changed the nature of the jokes has changed over time too, right?
Will Flanary: Yeah. Just like anything you do in medicine, you know, the more you do something, the better you get at it. I think what I’ve taken away mostly from from my standup background is just is that comedic timing piece, knowing when to pause, when to hold, when to unleash the joke. And that’s that’s been something that’s helped me and also with our public speaking. And so you know obviously that’s where I get to do still some of my in-person performing and so, punch line, that was the word I was thinking of earlier. So and figuring out when to like, let go of that punch line and to have the greatest effect. Those are the things that you pick up a lot. You get better at the more you perform. And so you really need that experience to become better at humanizing medicine. Yeah.
Harry Glorikian: So you also wrote I think you wrote a a medical blog. I think it was called Gomer Blog.
Will Flanary: I was a contributor, yeah.
Harry Glorikian: Which some people described as The Onion, but for the medical industry. What did you write about there. What, what what would you say right when you were starting to satire like the health care system?
Will Flanary: Well, you know, I didn’t address the health care system as much back then. Humanizing medicine was mostly like making fun of different specialties and the idiosyncrasies that different types of medicine has in the personalities. So, like my first article that I wrote that I wrote was an ophthalmologist accidentally agrees to see inpatient consult. You know and so it is stuff like that I it’s been it’s been long now it’s like I can’t remember I wrote like almost a hundred articles and so there’s a ton of them out there. But what it really helped me do that process was it helped me improve my writing. So when I ended up writing skits for the videos, I think that that process helped me. But also it it challenged me to think outside of ophthalmology because when I started doing that, I was in ophthalmology residency. And so like I had to start thinking about other specialties and kind of expand my humor outside of what I knew. And and that translates very well to what I’m doing now, right? Because I can I still can make fun of all these different specialties. And I really credit my time writing for Gomerblog to, it kickstarted that ability.
Harry Glorikian: So you mentioned like some of your listeners earlier, but who who is the predominant audience? Because I feel like it’s guys like me who know that know this face. It’s my physician friends who I’m like, “Oh, you got to watch this one.” And I send it to them, Right? But I feel like, well, maybe I’m self-selecting for my own community, but is it the average person also?
Will Flanary: I don’t know. What do you think?
Kristin Flanary: Yeah. We see a lot of non medical people in his audience. I’d say the majority of people that are in medicine in some way or another. But there’s a pretty sizable chunk that are not connected to medicine directly. But maybe they have a family member who works in medicine or just we all have to interact with the health care system at one point or another. So there are people that can relate to it from being a patient. And I think people are just generally interested in medicine as a topic, so humanizing medicine is relatable to a large audience. You look at how many medical TV shows there have been over the years, so there’s a there’s a pretty good chunk, I think, that are that are not medical.
Will Flanary: And I would say that when I when I first started making the skits, I was really thinking about it from the perspective of, oh, this is for health care professionals, This is for people in medicine, this is for doctors. But now I’ve when I, I still have that mindset a little bit, but now whenever I make the skits, I try to write them in a way that is will still be interesting to a non-medical audience, especially when it’s I’m trying to address that advocacy piece a little bit more and talking about the health care system. I try to to write those skits in a way that someone who’s never taken a class in med school will still be able to relate and understand what I’m talking about. It’s going to be challenging with some of the some of these topics. And our health care systems are complicated. And so it can be, I’ve like driven myself crazy sometimes. I keep referring to the pharmacy benefit manager because that’s that’s something that I had to learn what that is and how it how it impacts medicine. And that was a really hard when I made that skit that was really hard to try to like put into lay terms like what it is this person, I’m not even sure I still get it, but but you know, some of those those little, you know, the middlemen of medicine kind of thing, sometimes that that kind of stuff is hard to to relate to a regular general audience.
Harry Glorikian: Well, have you guys ever seen The Incredibles? The scene where he goes, you know, they’re there, they’re figuring out how to get into our system. And I keep thinking, Oh my God, that’s health care. Like somebody needs a road map to figure out how to, you know, breach the walls of the system to get through it. You know, in our house, even though I’m in health care, my wife does that. And and she is like every once in a while I can tell like, she’s just, “This is broken. Something is wrong. Like, I can’t believe it’s taking this much to do it.” And I’m like, if somebody doesn’t have the time to do it, it’s crazy, right? Trying to get through the system. But it makes me want to ask like. Why the personality you created in the skits you do are so popular. And I mean, don’t don’t get me wrong, they’re really funny because I laugh at them all the time.
Kristin Flanary: I ask the question. Don’t worry.
Harry Glorikian: There has to be more to it. It’s got to be beyond entertainment value, right? There’s got to be some you know. Do you think there’s some nerve that you’re hitting?
Will Flanary: Yeah, I think. I think for for whatever reason, I’m saying things that a lot of people have been thinking and maybe saying to each other in in in break rooms and surgery lounges and their Facebook groups by text messages to each other and all the frustrations, all the conflicts that I bring up in these skits. And so and now I just I happen to have the platform and I am I’m now saying them to this wider audience. And it’s so it’s striking a chord because I feel like I’m saying a lot of these things, I’m addressing all of these things that have been frustrating for health care workers for a long time. And and I’m doing it in a way that’s funny and shareable to people. I think that’s the way it is for for the health care space. But for people who are not in medicine, I stillm I’m not quite sure why why people are not in medicine find it. Like I’ll go to a I’ll be in the airport and I’ll get people come up to me like, oh, my kid loves you. And it’s like they’re like 12 years old. And it’s like, Why? What on earth? And I think it’s maybe the just the personalities, you know, because the personalities of the different characters you see in every you can, you see everywhere, you know, you see in every industry, every, you know, the neurologist or the surgeon, that surgeon personality, you know, you see that in other places. And so I think maybe that’s it for a not for the non-medical person is they’re just they recognize the personality type. And it’s it’s fun to watch. I don’t know, maybe it’s my acting skills. I don’t know, honestly.
What is humanizing medicine?
Humanizing medicine refers to an approach in healthcare that prioritizes the human experience of patients and healthcare providers. It involves recognizing and addressing the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of health and illness, as well as the physical symptoms and treatments.
Humanizing medicine emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships between patients and healthcare providers, promoting empathy, and considering patients’ values, preferences, and perspectives in decision-making. It also involves providing care that is culturally sensitive and respectful of diversity.
In practical terms, humanizing medicine may involve providing patients with more time and attention during medical appointments, involving them in decision-making about their care, and ensuring that they have access to appropriate support and resources. It may also involve efforts to improve the working conditions and well-being of healthcare providers, recognizing the importance of their own health and resilience in providing high-quality care.
In the case of our guests, they are humanizing medicine through comedy!
Harry Glorikian: Let’s pause the conversation for a minute to talk about one small but important thing you can do, to help keep the podcast going. And that’s leave a rating and a review for the show on Apple Podcasts.
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And one more thing. If you like the interviews we do here on the show I know you’ll like my new book, The Future You: How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Get Healthier, Stress Less, and Live Longer.
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And now, back to the show.
Harry Glorikian: Well, you know, I always tell my kids, I mean, stereotypes and stuff came from somewhere. It’s not like somebody just made it up off the top of their head. But you know, I know that if I ever made a joke, my doctor friends would be like, Hey. You know, cut it out. So do you ever run into colleagues who are not amused or who think the satire goes too far? And if that’s the case, how do you respond to them?
Will Flanary: Yeah, we talk about this every time it comes up, but for the most part, people in medicine are pretty you know, they like it. I’d say there are certain specialties that feel less enthusiastic about my content. You know, the family medicine doctor that I portray, I get a little bit of pushback on that. And I get it. You know, I portray that that character as an overworked, underappreciated, underpaid, which I think are all true things for primary care. But I think it’s such a raw nerve for people in that field that in every time and it’s a small minority, I’m just a handful of people, but that’s the only specialty that I really get that from. So whenever I put a video out about family medicine, I’ll usually get an email or to be like, “Oh, you’re convincing med students not to go into primary care.” R And I don’t really buy that argument because I don’t think I am saying anything about any of these specialties that people don’t already know. I’m just I’m just going on a public stage. Right. And sometimes that rubs people the wrong way and you’re not going to please everyone, especially on social media, and you just kind of have to deal with it.
Harry Glorikian: Now, that’s impossible. I mean, you know, I was I was I’ve been watching a bunch of the skits, right? I mean, and I’m trying to categorize them correctly. But if, like, neurosurgeons are a little inhumane robots, and all orthopedic surgeons are self-absorbed cowboys, and all the psychologists are touchy feely hippies. I’m sort of going through some of your the characters that you’ve got. Right. But you’ve got to be basing some of that on on things that you’ve observed or things that you’ve seen.
Will Flanary: Yeah, it’s a lot based on our the the experiences that I have. And in med school primarily. I have to do a lot more research these days because I as an ophthalmologist, I don’t interact with nephrologists very often. So it’s, you know, and some of the health issues that we’ve been through, you know, that that I draw on some of those experiences interacting with doctors as well. Andr I think all overall just all all that helps inform the characters.
Harry Glorikian: I mean, thinking about it, right? So because we’re here in the U.S., Right. So do you think there’s anything unique right about the American health care system that makes it a good target for satire. Do you think if you could make just as much material, if your comedy were in Canada or Australia, India or China or anywhere else?
Kristin Flanary: I think you could, because a lot of the personalities, it turns out, are pretty universal across the globe. So maybe some of the specifics about the health care system would be different. But that said, a lot of other countries are fascinated, in maybe not a great way, with the U.S. health care system and everything that is kind of bizarre about it in their view. So I think it’s got universal appeal.
Will Flanary: And I don’t think any, I mean, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who is 100% happy with their health care system. I just think we have very unique problems here in the US. And so if I was in a different country and grew up in a different place, I’d probably just have different type of satire for a different for the NHS or the Canadian system or whatever it is. And so I just think there’s just seems to be a ton of potential content to mine, particularly with the US health care system.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah. I’m wondering if you sequenced every pathologist that you’d find some common sequence that would make them all similar in some way. But so, you know, I want to jump to “Knock, Knock, Hi.” Right. With you know, you guys do that together. And it’s very different from the skits. One thing, you’re not in character, right? You and Kristin are interviewing actual people from the world of medicine. Why did you start that podcast? I mean, I know why I started mine. I’m just wondering why you guys started yours.
Will Flanary: You want to go first?
Kristin Flanary: I think there’s, you know, his skits are one thing and that’s kind of what started this whole crazy adventure. But I think we have a lot of other things to say as well besides just the comedy. And the podcast is comedy still. But we try to touch on just like in his skits, in a subtle way, he touches on more serious things, we do that in the podcast as well, pulling from our own medical history and the story that we’ve shared together, and also the stories that other people have gone through. And, you know, medicine is just such a bizarre sort of a career. He’s obviously a doctor, but I am not in medicine in any way. And so we have that kind of dual perspective, the inside outside perspective that we can kind of analyze some of these issues and stories through.
Will Flanary: In the end, basically, what we’re trying to do is humanizing medicine and the medical experience altogether. And so what I like to do and what I do in my comedy too, is just show how human people are, especially doctors, because we you know, the medical field in general has seen doctors as as these stone faced monoliths that don’t have any emotions and don’t experience pain and suffering or happiness or anger or sadness, all these things. And so I like, what we do with this podcast is highlight some of the stories that show those sides of physicians in particular. O ur dynamic is is really helpful for that because like as like Kristin said, she comes at everything from a totally different perspective and honestly it gets kind of boring when doctors just talk to each other all the time. So we need we need some we need a different perspective in there, which she provides, which is great.
Harry Glorikian: Well, it’s interesting, right? Like, I mean, I love my doctor. He’s he’s always smiling. He’s always full of life. I mean, we’re also good friends, which helps. But, I mean, when I’m around him, he just cracks me up and he’s totally on top of it. So thank God he’s not like robotic or anything because I couldn’t I couldn’t handle that at all. But. So you’re saying that basically the podcast gives you another outlet versus what you can accomplish on, say, a TikTok or a YouTube video, right?
Will Flanary: Yeah, it’s longer form, right? And so some of the, when I film a skit, I have like 2 minutes to get my point across. And yeah, it’s great for like the public that has very little attention span, which is fantastic, but it’s also doesn’t allow us to really get in depth into certain things and certain topics. And, and there’s just so much to talk about in medicine, both funny things and potentially more serious things that we get into as well This combination of humanizing medicine works. And so by having that longer format, you know, it just, it was a challenge. And it’s also because I’m not used to people like hearing me talk for more than like 90 seconds. And so it’s been it’s been a learning experience and we’re having a lot of fun doing it, too, and talking with so many different people with different backgrounds in medicine.
Kristin Flanary: And it gives us a chance to highlight other voices. There are so many intelligent, interesting people in medicine doing intelligent, interesting things. So it gives us the chance to share that with our audience as well. And not just, you know, him all the time.
Will Flanary: There’s a lot of people out there with very embarrassing stories of themselves, which I love to hear. It’s always great to hear doctors tell embarrassing stories of their, you know, residency training or med school years.
Kristin Flanary: And I think ultimately it helps to sort of foster a bit of that doctor patient relationship that we have lost over the years with electronic health records and all the demands of, you know, you only get a few minutes with your doctor now. So I think that there’s a real appetite from the general public to hear from doctors, because we don’t get to hear from our own doctors anymore. So social media and podcasts and things like that are a great way to help the general public understand more about what’s going on in the medical system and learn more about the things that they are dealing with as well.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah. I mean, I can imagine that the long form gives you more of an opportunity, right? I mean, almost everything I do is generally longer form, right? But like, it’s funny because I’ve been asked to do a TEDx talk and they’re like, okay, you’ve got to do this in 6 minutes. And I’m like, What? Like, how am I going to boil this down? So I am, like, literally writing my script, right? So that I can stay exactly on target to finish this thing in 6 to 7 minutes. And it’s. Yeah, it is super hard.
Will Flanary: You’re not doing a 60-second TED Talk.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah, yeah, exactly. But so. What’s the future for the podcast? You know, where are you? Where do you guys. Envision it going And what do you really want to. What do you want it to do?
Will Flanary: Yeah, you know, we’re still feeling that out. This is kind of this is an endeavor that we took on with our production crew. And right now we’re just we’re having fun with it. We’re making little changes here and there. Just I see the podcast as an evolving thing. Who knows what it’s going to look like even six or nine months from now? But as far as long term, I think we’re happy with what we’re doing. We would love to. I’m always looking for excuses to like get out in front of an audience. And so I think over time, you know, if it if it grows and there’s the appetite for it, we’d love to do some live events and, I don’t know, just like, Kristin made a good point. We really like highlighting or showcasing other other voices, because not just are they brilliant, intelligent people and interesting people, but they’re also funny, man. There’s a lot of funny people in medicine. And so that’s one thing that I want to do. I want to highlight the funny. I want to show people that, like doctors can be funny, too. It’s okay.
Harry Glorikian: Oh no, I remember some hilarious….
Will Flanary: It’s not going to get you in trouble. Yeah. Because you know, like…
Kristin Flanary: You encounter so many unusual situations that you have to sort of develop a sense of humor to just cope with what you do every day. So.
Harry Glorikian: Oh, I remember when, you know, when a couple of my buddies were in residency and then, you know, they’d go out drinking and then they would be like they’d have an IV and, you know, actually try to get the IV. And so they’d wake up the next morning without a hangover. I’m like, Have you lost your mind? Right? And they’d be laughing about it the next day because they’re like, “Man, if I can do that while I’m drunk, imagine when I’m sober,” right? So, you know, on one hand you’re like, That sounds crazy, but on the other hand, you’re you’re cracking up. It’s it is funny when you know, when you look at it that way.
Will Flanary: Well, a lot of a lot of the medicine, the humor that you see in the medical field just stems from coping. Because the job can be extremely difficult. And there’s a lot of gravity to what physicians do. And so you have to have an outlet somehow. And for a lot of people, it’s humor, and that’s a great way to deal with it. And so it’s fun to showcase that.
Kristin Flanary: And a lot of people, I think are in medicine are a little bit nervous about using humor in medicine because the place most people’s minds go to first is, you know, the HIPAA violations or that that’s inappropriate. Of course, you know, our number one rule on our podcasts and all of our content is you never, ever, ever make fun of patients. That’s not funny to begin with. And there’s several other problems with it, obviously. So it doesn’t have to be, you know, it’s not mean humor, it’s not inappropriate patient-based humor. It’s just laughing at ourselves and laughing at the bizarre things that you have to do every day or some dark humor to cope with the heavy things that you have to do every day because doctors are human too.
Harry Glorikian: No, no. I mean, look, I’ve been in the health care life sciences world my entire career. And, you know, I’m used to different, you know, medications, procedures, processes, technologies, etc. But I know that there are certain times when I walk into a hospital, I’m like, I don’t want to, I just can’t I can’t deal with the human aspect of it. I understand the procedural, the process, what happens? Everything. But once you have to deal with the human, especially kids, I’m, you know, I get really squeamish very quickly.
Will Flanary: Kids are hard. Imagine rtrying to do an eye exam on a kid. That’s even harder.
Kristin Flanary: Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of doctors are trained to sort of compartmentalize their emotions so that you don’t let it interfere with your work, which is understandable. But then you have to let them out somehow, somewhere. So humor is a great way to do that without it shutting you down emotionally. It’s a good way to process and cope.
Harry Glorikian: No, I mean, I agree. I mean, look, right now we’ve got the burnout rate. Covid caused a catastrophe, which the average person has no concept of what it did to the system, the individuals in the system. And you can see, especially from a community hospital perspective, it’s just not healthy right now. There’s got to be a way to sort of, I don’t want to say fix it. That’s the wrong word. But infuse it with energy or, you know, make some changes that would make the system better for the people working in it. And therefore, as a result, the patients that visit the system.
Kristin Flanary: Yes.
Harry Glorikian: So well. What’s next for you guys?
Will Flanary: Um, I don’t know. We’re. We have some fun things that we want to do. Other multimedia type of, of, of content potentially. An animated series maybe. I don’t know. There’s like, there’s, you know. We get approached to do all kinds of things. It’s just a matter of what do you want to spend your time working toward? And this podcast, we’ve been working real hard to get this off the ground. And so I’m just right now I feel like we’re just kind of in this space where we’re just enjoying kind of where we are and continue to improve the things that we’re we’re currently doing. And then there will be more things. I don’t know. You should write. You could write a book.
Kristin Flanary: I’d love to write a book.
Will Flanary: I probably couldn’t write a book on humanizing medicine. I don’t think I, I don’t have the, the, I don’t know, the attention span to sit down and write a book. That seems really hard, but maybe I could do other things. Maybe I could write a children’s book. Not that that’s easier. It still seems really hard.
Harry Glorikian: Hard to run a couple of books. And I can tell you they’re, actually it’s interesting because I think writing writing is easier than than marketing, but maybe you guys have the marketing part covered.
Will Flanary: But okay, I could do that.
Harry Glorikian: But, you know, I think there’s a you know, it’s funny because like you said on the humor side, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for humanizing medicine further. It strikes people the right way. I mean, I’m always thinking, how do I improve my show, right? How do I how do I get the right people on the show? How do I have the right conversations? How do I figure out what people are interested in? And, you know, because it’s also got to be something I’m interested in. I’m just I’m not doing it for everybody else. It’s got to be something in it for me, too. But it’s, you know, it’s an interesting process to go through that creative process to figure out what you want and what does the audience want.
Will Flanary: Well, that’s that’s been a big challenge for me personally and something, you know, I’ve never. I’ve never. I’m not really like a group project kind of person. You know, like, I like doing standup where you’re by yourself. I started a Twitter account where it’s just your own thoughts. I make these skits where I’m talking to other people, but it’s just me. My whole thing so far has been like a solo project. And so this has really gotten me, this podcast, has gotten me outside of my comfort zone and working with the team to get this podcast produced and also actually interacting with people who are not myself. And so to your point about like having the right conversations with people and figuring out how to make it an interesting conversation, like that’s been something that…
Kristin Flanary: That’s what he has me for.
Will Flanary: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Kristin helps me interact with people. Yeah. Which just great.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah. And it’s funny because I always tell people that I’m interviewing because, you know, they are not comedians. Absolutely not. For the most part. They’re all super serious people. It’s like, look, guys, this has got to be entertaining and educational. Like, it cannot be just one sided, right? So we got to like, r we got to have a good chemistry and interact, right? And so it’s an interesting process. I mean, you guys are now doing TikTok videos. You’re putting the podcast up, I think, on YouTube also, if I’m not mistaken. You do video and audio.
Will Flanary: Yeah, we’re doing we’re doing video as well. So some people like to watch the episodes, you know, and so we try to give people the options and so that goes up every week. And then I still I try to do I try to do two skits per week, which is becoming more and more difficult, but it’s really just about trying to find the time. And so, yeah, the podcast. The skits. We do a lot of speaking as well.
Kristin Flanary: I do some writing.
Will Flanary: Yeah. So, you know, we got plenty of stuff on our plate.
Kristin Flanary: Yeah.
Harry Glorikian: Well you could start using ChatGPT to write your skits for you. I mean these days. ot’s being used for everything.
Will Flanary: Yeah. People have like I have had people send me some scripts, GPT scripts and, and I will say that I am not, don’t feel in danger of that replacing me. AI is not as funny as it thinks it is, I’ll say that.
Harry Glorikian: Well let’s put it this way, for all the things that we want to use AI for, thank God it’s not funny because we don’t, we need it to be super serious when we get the answer. Any topic that I haven’t covered that you guys want to jump into that that I haven’t thought of and in getting prepped for this?
Will Flanary: No, really. I mean, just, you know, if there’s anybody thinking about medicine for a career, like you should absolutely do ophthalmology because it gave you the free time to dress up in costume on on your weekends and evenings.
Kristin Flanary: It’s a good thing I married you before you started doing all this.
Will Flanary: Yeah, it would be that would be a hard conversation in the dating pool. What do you do? Well.
Kristin Flanary: I dress up in ca hildren’s costume.
Will Flanary: Have you ever seen a neurologist before? I’d like to show you one.
Harry Glorikian: Y ou’re sort of fitting a stereotype for me because my ophthalmology friends seem to have lots of time on their hands. I get a postcard from a great friend of mine, which I always look forward to getting it. It’s all their travels that they do, and he puts it to like limericks and it’s just hilarious with all the pictures and everything they did. And he’s an ophthalmologist, so there you go. I think you hit the nail on the head.
Kristin Flanary: It’s a good lifestyle.
Will Flanary: I joke about it a lot, but honestly, like, if I was in another area of medicine, there’s a chance I may not be able to do this. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I’m doing with social media. So I’m very fortunate to be in the job I am and the career I am. So it allows me, because honestly, in the end, because I get asked by people, you know, are you going to quit medicine? Are you going to do this full time? You know, are you going to, or why are you still practicing? They’re assuming I’m making a boatload of money doing this stuff. But honestly, I’m not I’m not even thinking about quitting medicine because I feel like that would take away from my content. Like, so much of what I do on social media is wrapped up in my life as a physician and my experiences as a doctor. And so I feel like if I ever quit medicine, r it would make the my content seem a little less genuine, you know? And so I’m going to I’m going to keep doing both until I run out of hours in the day, I guess.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah. No. And you got to always have new content. So it’s it’s.
Will Flanary: Yeah. That’s right. The never ending stream of it. I’ve got a whole list of skits to record.
Harry Glorikian: Yeah, it’s funny because I had gone to the Grammy [Awards] one year and I and I, they gave us some tours behind the scenes and we were talking to some of the writers of different music areas and I was like, How do you come up with your stuff? And like, one guy was like, You don’t know how many times I’ve broken up with my girlfriend, right? And almost had a fight on purpose because I need to get some inspiration for writing something down. And I was like, I never thought about that. I’m like, That must suck. But to generate content, I guess, you know, people will do all sorts of stuff.
Will Flanary: You need those emotional highs and lows.
Harry Glorikian: Well, you know, the creative process is not necessarily always logical. So.
Kristin Flanary: Yeah.
Will Flanary: Sure.
Harry Glorikian: So, well, it’s been great having you guys on the show. I mean, I obviously I will continue to watch and share the videos that are humanizing medicine with especially the doctor that you pick, as I know a lot of these guys in this area. And sometimes I’m not sure if they laugh or they they think I’m ribbing them. But both ways it’s good. And I wish you guys huge success and look forward to hopefully staying in touch.
Will Flanary: Yeah.
Kristin Flanary: Thanks for having us on.
Will Flanary: I appreciate it, yeah. Thanks.
Harry Glorikian: Thanks.
Harry Glorikian: That’s it for this week’s episode about humanizing medicine through comedy.
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FAQs about humanizing medicine
I like to include FAQs at the end of my podcast transcripts to help my viewers and readers get more familiar with the topic. So, here are a couple of frequently asked questions about humanizing medicine through comedy.
Is comedy humanizing medicine?
Yes, comedy can be a way for humanizing medicine. Laughter and humor can provide emotional relief and help alleviate stress and anxiety, which can be particularly beneficial for patients who are experiencing illness or undergoing medical treatments. Humor can also help healthcare providers connect with their patients on a more personal level, and can make medical environments feel less intimidating and more welcoming.
In addition, humanizing medicine with comedy can be used to raise awareness and educate the public about important health issues, such as the importance of preventive care, the impact of chronic diseases, and the challenges of living with a disability or illness. This can help reduce stigma and promote empathy and understanding.
However, it’s important to note that humanizing medicine with humor in healthcare must be used appropriately and with sensitivity to the individual needs and preferences of patients. Humor should never be used to belittle or mock patients, or to make light of serious medical conditions. Instead, it should be used to promote connection, empathy, and positivity.
Can humor help patients in healthcare?
Yes, humor can help with humanizing medicine and be beneficial for patients in healthcare in several ways.
Firstly, humanizing medicine with humor can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common emotional experiences for patients who are facing illness or undergoing medical treatments. Laughter and humor can release endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can improve mood and boost overall well-being.
Secondly, humor can help patients cope with pain and discomfort, and may even reduce the need for pain medication in some cases. Laughter from comedy that is humanizing medicine can stimulate the body’s natural painkillers, which can help reduce feelings of pain and discomfort.
Thirdly, humor can improve patient-provider relationships by promoting trust, empathy, and communication. When healthcare providers use humor for humanizing medicine appropriately and sensitively, it can help patients feel more comfortable and open with their providers, which can lead to better health outcomes.