For all you doctors, med students, storytellers, and humans…

So today I made it to an AMAZING lecture at the UA med. school on narrative medicine. Narrative medicine? Yes, narrative medicine. Medicine meets storytelling! Or to be precise:

“Narrative Medicine connotes a medicine practiced with narrative competence and marked with an understanding of the highly complex narrative situations among doctors, patients, colleagues, and the public.” -Dr. Charon, founder of the brand new Columbia University masters program in narrative medicine! (did you catch that– Columbia offers a masters in narrative medicine!)

In my own words–it’s medicine that recognizes the huge role that stories play in the health-care field, in so many ways: the stories that patients tell themselves about their life, their health, their illness; the stories they tell doctors about themselves; the impact patient stories have on doctors; the stories doctors tell patients about an illness, their condition, their prognosis, etc.; the impact stories can have on making sense of illness, and the very real physiological impact of mindset/attitude/stress, which can shift if a patient’s story shifts; and on and on and on…

A good example of this is a study right here in Tucson, at the U of A, on “Storytelling to Promote Colorectal Screening in Primary Care Clinics”: for the abstract-
http://www.fcm.arizona.edu/index.cfm/1,108,553,0,html/Storytelling-to-Promote-Colorectal-Screening-in-Primary-Care-Clinics-NCI

[nothing quite like colo-rectal storytelling, right?]

One really awesome take-away point from the talk was that neuro-imaging studies have discovered that the form of communication that “lights up the brain” the most is communication via metaphor. Brilliant! (Though I must add that I haven’t personally checked out the studies the speaker was referring to, so who knows…)

Wanting more info? Check out:
http://litsite.alaska.edu/healing/medicine.html
http://www.narrativemedicine.org/

Yeah!

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