On the 11th of September Dr Armando Hasudungan, a successful online medical educator, presented at the Society of Medical Innovation and Technology’s inaugural event: Innovation in Health Speaker Night. Read our interview with him below!
Transforming how medical students learn, one hand-drawn tutorial at a time
From the nitty gritty of biochemistry to the beauty of embryology to the mazes of neurology, Dr Armando Hasudungan Faigl has amassed a cult-like following on YouTube for his unique illustrations that simplify even the most elusive concepts. Since 2011, Armando has accumulated 61,990,818 YouTube views with more than 800, 000 subscribers. In fact, some of his more popular uploads on the female reproductive system and also on endocrinology have over 1 million views each. His work has been recognised by the likes of Faber-Castell Australia, who sponsor his videos.
On the back of his channel’s success, his new website organises his almost 400 videos by category in order to make his content more accessible. His efforts to enrich understanding of biology and medicine over the last seven years has proven invaluable to students world-wide.
From boarding school in Toowoomba, QLD, to teaching English to students in Japan, to a Biomedical Science degree at university, Armando had always hoped to become a physiotherapist. But, after a change of heart, he decided to pursue a medical degree at the University of Notre Dame (2014-2017). Now, he is a junior doctor at St George Hospital in Sydney.
Join us as we delve into the mind of an incredible innovator in our Q & A below!
The textbook learner. The visual learner. The audio learner. Which style do you prefer and why?
In high school, I just followed the norm. I was reading if I had to, I was listening if I had to, I was presenting if I had to. I never thought I had a specific learning style until I started Biomedical Science where I found I was definitely a visual learner. I would always look at diagrams and summaries of diagrams to understand concepts. I also liked to watch videos to understand concepts further.
What made you develop your YouTube channel?
I didn’t plan for it. I did it out of sheer why not? I had an existing YouTube channel called Armando Hasudungan where it was just my username. And then I decided to upload one of these videos, which I created for a university presentation. I saw that people watched it and actually commented. But not only that, I learned that by making these videos I was able to understand the topic a lot more and that’s what made me want to make more. I realised that people benefited out of it too so that motivated me more. It was more of a hobby rather than a planned-out thing.
How do you see your YouTube channel evolving?
I really do want to try to incorporate a lot more videos on specific topics which are lacking online. Such as in pharmacology, clinical anatomy and embryology for example. And make maybe different channels and different animations for that, not necessarily the type I make. It would be great in the future if I would get other people involved in this business. Get more animators, get more communicators.
Can you tell us about an interesting opportunity you have had in medicine?
In medical school, I was able to get a casual position with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as a Science Communicator. That was because they knew my work as a drawer. Essentially, there was a lot of research that they would want me to illustrate for them and explain in a video. There were other opportunities when I was in medical school, mainly related to my drawing and science communication. There were things like Quitline, where they wanted me to create a series of videos on quitting smoking. Also, Sydney Children’s Hospital wanted me to create a video on genetic testing.
How important is science communication currently in the research field?
I feel science communication is extremely important. In the research field, you have a group of people that do the research; these very smart, intelligent, science-driven people who know everything about the lab or about data. But they don’t know how to explain it to someone else if they want to relay this information. Being able to communicate this effectively is very important. If you do find a breakthrough in research, and you want to explain it to the public, you would want the public to be able to understand what the whole thing is about. I think having someone who specialises in that is quite important. Especially again because there are different demographics, like laymen or even children for that matter.
When you were in medical school, how did you prepare for exams?
I would prepare for exams with a small group of at least 2-3 people, and really go through each learning objective and take turns answering it. That way you are teaching the group, you are explaining a concept to the group and you will get corrected if you are wrong. I think this is very useful because when you can explain something and when people understand it that shows you understand the concept.
What is your advice for medical students on being innovative?
You really need to think outside the box. Think about new ideas that could improve the health of someone or improve the health system – make it more efficient. There are many different ways. One of the most important things to do is research.
If you have a passion for something you should do it because you are genuinely interested in it and you want to improve your skills in that area. Naturally what would happen is you would get opportunities, you would meet like-minded people and opportunities will arise from that and it can lead you somewhere.
What’s next for you?
I would want to be training as a specialist in rheumatology or oncology. I would also want to share my passion of education, teaching other students and colleagues, and hopefully spend some of that time on online education, improving on the current website I have.
If there are any students with skills in drawing, animation technologies or teaching as a whole and would like to be involved with the work Dr Hasudungan does, please contact him on Armandohasudungan@gmail.com.