The title of Dr. Samuel LeBaron’s article is intriguing enough. The fact that the author quotes three separate poems in a journal called Academic Medicine makes it even more alluring.
The bulk of my work is wrapped up in teaching how stories can be useful in clinical situations. I believe that stories and storytelling make life better and more meaningful. I tend, though, to downplay narrative work that can’t explicitly help doctors, nurses, and administrators serve patients more effectively. I suppose that comes from a need to show healthcare professionals the value of medical humanities.
The way that Dr. Jurate A. Sakalys writes about the need to simply let patients talk, though, is a good challenge for me. Writing in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, Sakalys brings up several themes which have come up in the context of patient-provider communication. The focus of the article, though, is on why those narratives are healthy for the patient.
One of the most important concepts of my training in storytelling is one of the most overlooked.
The technical term is “The Space Between”. The idea is that one force alone is uninteresting, if not meaningless. It has to act with or against something else to be interesting and meaningful. This is a way of realizing that a story happens not because one person does something, but because a person does something to someone else. The Space Between, then, changes our thinking. Storytelling isn’t based on individuals, but is focused on the literal empty space between characters.
In the next few months, I’m going to be doing some work around children, so I needed to get an updated TB test.
Stuck in a small room with a clinician while she prepared the tuberculin, she asked me the usual pleasantry: “So, what do you do?”
I told her briefly about how I work with medical storytelling and help people connect better through narratives.
She paused thoughtfully for a minute, and said, “My dad passed away recently. In the hospital, there was one doctor who took the time to listen to my dad’s stories…” and her voice trailed off as she choked up.
Continue Reading “Emotional Signposts”
Dr. Moira A. Stewart, writing in the 1995 Canadian Medical Association Journal, writes that although there had been reviews of data exploring the
relation between communication and patient satisfaction,1 which
linked communication with quality of care,2 and others exploring the theory of physician-patient communication or how medical education could incorporate these ideas, none specifically looked at the relationship between communication and health outcomes.
Continue Reading “Thursday Review: “Effective Physician-Patient Communication and Health Outcomes””
Writing in the journal Humanities, Wendy Bowles addresses the question,
How do nurse educators who enable Narrative Pedagogy experience Listening: knowing and connecting?
This article discusses the education of nurses in light of the “Concernful Practices” framework for Narrative Pedagogy, and centers on its “Listening: knowing and connecting” element. Bowles specifically presents how “Listening as Dialog” is present in nurse educators who implement Narrative Pedagogy strategies. Bowles is specifically addressing one facet of one element of an academic classification aimed at one specific profession.
If that sounds like a niche presentation, you’d be right. Bowles work exists inside the discussion of a specific set of tools. After reading the paper, though, let me see if I can zoom out, and give a broader context for why I think some of the elements Bowles writes about are compelling.