Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Creative Writing for Physicians

Recently in Canada, some physicians completing their professional development requirements engaged in a creative writing exercise, described here by participant Dr. Erica Weir. The goal of the activity was to refresh the doctors’ empathy for their patients. “Storytelling in this context,” Dr. Weir wrote, “exercises one’s moral imagination to suspend one’s own beliefs in order to empathize with another’s perspective.” Using a non-fictional case study, participants wrote imagined dialog, fictional medical transcripts, a patient-perspective journal entry, and poetry—with fascinating results. “Translating statistics into stories through continuing professional development exercises such as this creates touchstones for doctors to rest and reflect upon at the busy intersections where art and science meet,” Dr. Weir says. "By pausing and putting pen to paper to imagine a story from another’s perspective, we hold up a mirror that casts a refreshing reflection of not only what is, but also what should be.” Indeed, stories that transcend their artistic qualities and improve the human condition, physically and otherwise, are singularly admirable.

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