Introduction to the Issue: The Joy and Debt of Service

J. Blake Scott and Lisa Melonçon

Date posted: January 2022

In their last introduction as co-editors of RHM, Scott and Melonçon reflect on what it means to find gratitude in service.

Online supplemental material for:

Teaching Health Justice: Centering Reproduction

Heather Brook Adams

Date posted: January 2022

Adams makes a case for a RHM-based course on the subject of reproduction and gender that is curated through a reproductive justice framing as a valuable opportunity to address gendered- and raced-sites of health in/justice. The value of cultivating health-oriented rhetorical agency and advocacy creates a hopefulness for reproductive justice to be used as an activist framework within pedagogical spaces. Adams’ article provides an overview of reproductive justice as an activist framework, details the rhetorical functions of that framework, and follows with a description of course exigency, teaching context, and course design. This article encourages replication or adaptation of such a course within various pedagogical settings. It is through this reproductive justice framework that individual, familial and communal epistemologies can enrich the classroom experience, countering sanctioned narratives of medical authority and the assumed trust that some people and communities hold for health professionals and health practices. By opening up this space for more collaborative exploration, critical and culturally dismissed health experiences can be given new light and students are encouraged to explore avenues for self-sponsored rhetorical activity which fosters hopefulness in RHM.

Online supplemental material for article only.

Topic: health justice, reproductive justice


Codisciplinary Code-Switching: Bridging Biology and the Humanities during COVID-19

Amanda K. Greene & Jennifer Swann

Date posted: January 2022

Greene and Swann set a model for their article by describing an experimental, interdisciplinary course on the immune system that was co-taught by a humanist and a scientist; this course’s creation coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In turn, this course was designed to grapple with current events, helping students navigate the entanglement of science and society. Integrating codisciplinary code-switching into a pedagogical setting enables broader possibilities and alternative ways of integrating the humanities and the sciences in medical education. Greene and Swann argue that this type of medical education would nurture students’ capacities for more complex, nuanced, and powerful forms of code-switching, integrating medical praxis as a form of reading and interpretation, respecting both disciplines as tools for reading bodies, texts, and contexts.

Online supplemental material for article.

Topic: code-switching, codisciplinary, interdisciplinary course


The Patient Decision Aid as a Pedagogical Tool: Exigencies between RHM and the Health Professions

Maria Novotny, William F. Hart-Davidson & Dawn S. Opel

Date posted: January 2022

This article focuses on the patient’s decision aid as a pedagogical tool that embraces the technological and multimodal changes in health and medicine. Novotny, Hart-Davidson & Opel make the case that patient decision aids can be understood as a multimodal tool which guides shared decision-making practices. Within a classroom setting, and in thinking of a decision aid as a genre, this tool prompts students to engage in a series of writing modalities as well as the application of user experience and design. This model also helps students learn about the importance of health literacy, how public health information is communicated as well as trusted, and the intersecting impact of public health policy on marginalized communities. To demonstrate this point, this article shares examples of student-created decision aids, particularly in the context of COVID-19. Novotny, Hart-Davidson & Opel’s article works to make transparent connections in writing and rhetoric classrooms, offering the decision aid as an assignment that links humanities-based students with broader healthcare industries.

Online supplemental material for article.

Topic: patient decision aid, healthcare writing, multimodal composition, health literacy


Online articles:

Harm Reduction as Pedagogical Praxis: Confronting Capitalism in the University Classroom

CE MacKenzie

Date posted: January 2022

Mackenzie explores harm reduction (a public health practice that rejects iterations of capitalism) as an epistemological model that can be adapted pedagogically in rhetoric, communications and composition classes. Mackenzie identifies capitalism in the classroom and argues that the harms of capitalist-based writing and knowledge should consider attention to the ways we are lured towards production, or a means to an end. This article also explores this model through street needle exchange. Reflecting on previous experiences, Mackenzie adds an informed positionality into the article, recounting time spent with a needle exchange (NEX) team. In that role, Mackenzie applied harm reduction to praxis, engaging clients in the process of offering care without requesting one’s work towards a particular model in order to access resources and services. Concluding that harm reduction has epistemological value, such as an emphasis on temporality and its privileging of process, Mackenzie makes connections to use harm reduction as a method for teaching writing, rhetoric, and communications.

Includes full article and appendix.

Topic: harm reduction, pedagogical praxis, capitalist-based writing and knowledge


Viruses Don’t Discriminate, But People Do: Teaching Writing for the Health Professions in the Context of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter

Deborah Harris

Date posted: January 2022

In this article, Harris acknowledges the responsibility that writing instructors feel for their students, particularly in helping them address challenges and inequalities while in the classroom when unforeseen traumatic events are happening in our communities. In this frame of mind, both Harris recounts the experiences in the classroom during the global Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, taking advantage of these kairotic moments to give students the space and the agency to explore these current topics. Within this course, students engage in two units: medical ethics and professionalization. Grounding these units in current events, students were offered the space to discuss what was happening on a national level and abroad; discussions of universal medical themes were approached with Covid-19 and the BLM movement as current reference points. The course was expanded to frame readings in a current context, discussing the pandemic and race when relevant to engage students in traumatic medical and political realities. This contextual foundation for the course made concrete connections for students, intertwining medicine to realities and struggles of the outside world, including large social and political movements.

Includes full article and appendix.

Topic: process-based composition pedagogy, health professions writing, student agency


Exercising Uncertainty: Identifying and Addressing “Grey Areas” in a Case Study involving Corporate-Funded Research on the Effects of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Cynthia Ryan 

Date posted: January 2022

Within this article, Ryan identifies gray areas of medical research which can be understood through the acknowledgement that health and medicine texts are inseparable from the rhetorical conditions in which they are shaped and disseminated. These models of knowledge and learning are utilized in a writing course taught by Ryan, and discussed in the article as encouraging students to use critical thinking skills that extend beyond the material body and knowledge production influenced through institutional settings. Assigning a case study assignment, Ryan offers students the opportunity to step into realistic scenarios presenting complexities, including gaps in knowledge or gray areas suggesting uncertainty. The assignment centers on a disagreement between researchers on how to report a corporate-funded study that suggests negative effects of the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Ryan uses this case study scenario to situate students in a complex scenario, asking them to collaboratively address double standards in research, openness or hesitance to new knowledge and new perspectives, and the fluidity of knowledge in any context; this experience helps students gain transferable skills to apply in any situation and to navigate any situation that seems insurmountable.

Includes full article and appendix.

Topic: rhetorical condition, research practices, research ethics, knowledge dissemination


Shaping a Participatory Communication Pedagogy with UX and Patient-Agency

Lori Beth De Hertogh and Danielle DeVasto

Date posted: January 2022

In this article, De Hertogh and DeVasto center a foundational idea of health and medicine praxis as embracing patient-centered care practices by seeing patients as people and not just bodies that need repair. Influenced by the understanding and response to all a user’s abilities and needs, this article works to conceptualize a framework of participatory health communication pedagogy which merges UX and patient-centered concepts and practices to put students at the center of classroom learning. To further this line of thinking, De Hertogh and DeVasto suggest that scholar-teachers of RHM could benefit from heuristics of user experience, and illustrates this point by providing characteristics of a participatory health communication pedagogy utilized in the case study of two RHM classrooms. Within this framework, students are positioned as both content creators and as content users which maintains a valuable concern for usefulness and effectiveness. While UX-informed pedagogy models can be utilized across educational spaces such as in a writing studies class, this approach is particularly applicable to RHM courses, cultivating students’ own professional contexts and approaches to doing patient-centered work.

Includes full article.

Topic: participatory health communication pedagogy, UX, patient-agency


Ethics and Practice of Knowledge Integrity in Communicating Medical Research Findings

Scott A. Mogull

Date posted: January 2022

In this article, Mogull makes the case that RHM knowledge integrity is explored in the context of preparing RHM students, researchers, and practitioners to be careful curators and communicators of information from medical literature. Identifying a gap in the communication training of medical researchers, Mogull points to improper attribution to original researchers and misrepresentation of the rhetorical intent of published research as common oversights of scientific and medical research. Addressing this issue in the classroom, Mogull provides a four-step approach for viewing research findings through a lens of science communication ethics and writer ethos; such a lens provides individuals with transferable skills and a systematic framework as they navigate between automation of literature databases and human agency. Overall, this article works to provide instructors guides for navigating this approach in a classroom and helping students develop rhetorical application for a process that differs from programmed prior learning.

Includes full article.

Topic: RHM knowledge integrity, science communication ethics, author ethos, medical literature, intellectual property, information curation, ethical citation practices