“Narrative Medicine”

Tuesday, Oct. 29 | 11:30-12:15 p.m. | General Session

Michael Vitez, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist; Director of Narrative Medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Ignitor: Hedy Wald, PhD, Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Faculty, Harvard Medical School Global Pediatrics Leadership Program

Michael Vitez is Director of Narrative Medicine at The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Before coming to Temple, he spent 30 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer where he won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for a series of narratives about choices and changes surrounding care at end of life.

At Temple, the mission of the narrative medicine program is to focus on the human side of medicine, to increase the satisfaction and fulfillment of students and physicians, and to chronicle the amazing world of Temple University Hospital. We do this through a celebration of and emphasis on stories and storytelling.

The facts are well reported: Doctors too often feel isolated, frustrated, and burned out. Their humanity is challenged. The focus on the patient and patient’s story is often overlooked and devalued in the rush and crush. Students come into medical school full of empathy but in their education and training this often erodes.

Our goal is to protect and support this empathy, to nourish the humanism that brings physicians into the profession, and to teach the skills of narrative that help at the bedside and beyond.

Our program has curricular and extracurricular components. Reflective writing forms a significant component of the Professional Identity Formation thread in the MD curriculum. Electives in medical humanities range from exploration of narrative medicine to photo storytelling to improvisational acting. Students also conceive and complete individual or group projects for credit under the guidance of our faculty.

Extracurricular activities include a wide array of writing and narrative medicine workshops—some led by students—for students, residents, and hospital staff. “Narrative Medicine Talks” is our regular speaker series, and we convene fall and spring Story Slams for the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and Temple Hospital Community.

Our program gives medical students and physicians skills and opportunities to reflect on their experiences, to find and celebrate meaning in their work, and to appreciate the value of the patient’s story in patient care.

We encourage publication and dissemination of our work in medical journals and the lay press. A narrative medicine page on the LKSOM website is home to much of our student writing, and each year students compile and publish The Pulse, our local literary magazine.

Stories are an indispensable part of medicine. Along with the physician’s touch, they are at the core of the patient-physician relationship. Stories have the power to heal, inspire, build relationships and change the world.

My teaching and international presentations center on the power of narrative for healthcare practitioners/healers, patients, and caregivers. Narrative can be used in health professions education to humanize medical environments and inform public health and research policy agendas. My workshops use interactive (guided) reflective writing-enhanced reflection as part of a resilience/flourishing toolkit, to support humanistic professional identity formation, and to augment effective healthcare leadership through meaning-making, sense of purpose, and promoting resilience/wellbeing.

Hedy S. Wald, PhD is Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Faculty; Harvard Medical School Global Pediatrics Leadership Program where she conducts workshops using the humanities to promote effective leadership. Dr. Wald has been honored with Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Awards, served as a Fulbright Scholar in medical education for the Ben Gurion University of Health Sciences Faculty of Medicine in Israel, and is a Gold Humanism Foundation Harvard-Macy Scholar. Dr. Wald presents conference keynotes and faculty and trainee workshops on reflective writing-enhanced reflection supporting professional identity formation as well as promoting resilience, wellbeing, and vitality in healthcare professions education and practice, now for over 60 healthcare professions schools and healthcare organizations world-wide. She is the Director of the Reflective Writing curriculum for the Family Medicine Clerkship at Alpert Medical School of Brown University and has published widely on this topic in medical education and practice, including guest editing a collection of articles for an Academic Medicine theme issue on Professional Identity Formation (https://www.linkedin.com/in/hedy-wald-83577668/; https://vivo.brown.edu/display/hwald). Frameworks for assessing reflection and for guiding faculty in crafting quality written feedback to students’ reflective narratives which Dr. Wald helped develop are currently in use worldwide within health professions education. Her creative writing, reviews, and poetry have appeared in literary and medical journals. Her work has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and Jerusalem Post.

Follow her on Twitter – @hedy_wald Mind/Body/Spirit of MedEd!