Clinical and Personal Value of Narrative Medicine Writing Workshops for Physicians and Practitioners
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Objectives: We write to tell our stories of patient encounters and come to understand them. A story discovers meaning in medicine. The objective is to write and tell stories of clinical encounters to develop self-awareness, patient perspectives and to demonstrate caring behaviors.
Methods: One session takes 60 minutes (full exercise in poster). Longer sessions have multiple writing opportunities, longer small-table conversations, and a primer on developing character and setting in writing.
Results: Over 8 years, in two conferences and 24 workshops (in 13 cities), 951 participants rated the sessions overall as 4.75 of 5, and 75% would use narrative in their practice. Also, 144 participants attended 20 writing groups. Selected Participant Comments:“Reminds me why we became doctors.”“Taking time to remember that each patient has an unfolding story is life affirming, however I found it startling to consider the doctor as part of the story.”“The training/sharing I had today will change how I view each patient interaction.”“Opened my eyes to how important my stories can be, and a new creative outlet.”“I know the people around my table better in two hours than I know the colleagues I work with everyday.”“I see this as a wellness mechanism! I am unlikely to meditate or go out for lunch during my busy day, but see myself able to close my office door and take 10 minutes to reflect upon a patient interaction in an attempt to find comfort or meaning there.”
Conclusions: Offering a forum for physicians and practitioners to recall, write and share meaningful clinical moments has professional and personal value, as evidenced by the ratings and comments. Publishing the copyedited writings (with permission) in a medical journal, booklets, or a medical lit-art e-journal heightens the value, and allows others to share the experiences.
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