Dr. Glaucomflecken

Hi I’m Will Flanary and Here is My Story

My mom kicked me out of her 6th grade language arts class. 

For some reason, the powers that be thought it would be a good idea for my mom to teach her kid, who also happened to be the biggest class clown in school. It didn’t go well. I made one too many jokes, got sent to the principal’s office, and received a conduct report to be signed by my dad. 

There are two things I’ve always wanted to do in life:

Be a doctor and tell jokes. 

I started out as an amateur performing stand-up comedy in Houston, TX to sparsely attended comedy club open mics. Even as my pursuit of a medical career took me to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, I continued to do stand-up comedy when I wasn’t learning the Krebs cycle or other things that med students learn that I don’t really remember.

It was comedy that helped me through a diagnosis of cancer during med school…and again during residency. 

Telling jokes helped me to navigate the challenges of living as a cancer patient in my 20s. It was my coping mechanism. 

Ultimately, performing comedy live became too challenging to keep up as my medical career progressed, so I turned to social media. I started the “Dr. Glaucomflecken” account on Twitter as an ophthalmology resident, fresh off a second occurrence of testicular cancer. It allowed me to express frustration toward my genitals for having betrayed me as well as tell jokes about my life as a resident in ophthalmology.

Over time, my audience grew. I continued making content through the pandemic, a sudden cardiac arrest, and dozens of reports of people sleeping in their contact lenses with disastrous consequences. 

My “Dr. Glaucomflecken” alter ego began as a creative outlet to tell painfully specific ophthalmology jokes and to cope with my own health challenges. Since then, it has evolved to incorporate satire of the US healthcare system, academic publishing, and the interpersonal conflicts that are pervasive in the medical system.

I’ve gone from cutting up in front of my 6th-grade classmates to delivering keynote addresses around the world and entertaining an audience of millions online.

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