Tuesday, February 28, 2012

6 ways that "Narrative Medicine" stories can strengthen healthcare practitioners

When I saw this ad in THE NEW YORKER for a graduate program in “Narrative Medicine,” I had to dig more.

“Narrative medicine” is one cost-effective and evidence-based method to equip health care professionals with the skills needed to respond to the challenge.

Narrative training enables practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians.  This is because a narrative improves the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness.

Increasing narrative competence can strengthen one’s:
  1. Professionalism
  2. Cultural competence
  3. Bioethical competence
  4. Interpersonal communication skills
  5. Self-reflective practice
  6. Ability to work with health care teams
For sure, the effective care of the sick requires a deep knowledge of the patient and the competent commitment of the physician – plus, a sturdy bond of trust between them both.

Despite the many sociocultural and professional factors that may divide doctors and patients – not to mention the impact of political and economic pressures on health care – an effective medical practice needs to replace hurried and impersonal care with careful listening, empathic attention, and personal fidelity.

I found that next week, March 6, Columbia University will be hosting a talk by Debra Litzelman, MD entitled, “The Use of Stories in Changing an Academic Health Center's Culture: Indiana University School of Medicine as a Case Report.”

This is one of a series of Narrative Medicine Rounds presented by scholars, clinicians, or writers engaged in work at the interface between narrative and health care.

You can download past programs on iTunes

Debra Litzelman serve as Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean for Research in Medical Education at IUSM. She completed her Health Services Research (HSR) Fellowship training at the Regenstrief Institute (RGI) in 1989 and served as the HSR Fellowship Training program director from 2000-02 securing funding from HRSA to maintaining funding for the HSR training program during the 10-15 years of its existence.

She has mentored over 15 post-doctoral fellows in HSR and in Medical Education Research most who have gone on to academic medicine careers.

Dr. Litzelman is currently the Principal Investigator on a second $1.5 million NIH Behavioral and Social Science Integrated Curricular Training grant for IUSM. She served as the co-PI on the Fetzer funded Relationship-centered Care Initiative (RCCI) directed at influencing and studying the impact of organizational change strategies on the professional learning environment of IUSM/IU Health System.  She was an investigator on an internal IU Health Value's Education grant from 2006-08 to adapt the RCCI organizational change intervention to the IU Health System's patient care sites.

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