When the Medical Mask Slips: The Contradictions of Care by Vik Reddy

Patients want caregivers to be professional and competent.  At the same time, patients expect a level of compassion and empathy from medical professionals.  These two impulses can be contradictory. 

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Does A Poem A Day Keep the Doctor Away? Thoughts on Injecting A Dose of Culture in Medical Waiting Rooms by Debbie McCulliss

Scholars have begun encouraging doctors to gain more insight from their patients through narrative writing, especially poetry. According to Dr. Rita Charon, director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and co-editor of Literature and Medicine, “With narrative competence, physicians can reach and join their patients in illness, recognize their own personal journeys through medicine, acknowledge kinship with and duties toward other health care professionals, and inaugurate consequential discourse with the public about health care” (as cited in Encke, 2011).

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How Meta-Narratives Protect and Serve Us by Maureen Hirthler

As I was writing my MFA thesis this summer, I thought daily about narrative. After all, both medicine and memoir are about stories—ours, our patients—and my MFA has been about learning how to tell stories well. Stories should move us forward; occasionally they hold us back. Sometimes the true meaning of stories takes years to uncover.

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