Thursday Review: “Can the Future of Medicine Be Saved from the Success of Science?”

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.

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Emotional Signposts

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.
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Thursday Review: “Physician Burnout and Patient-Physician Communication During Primary Care Encounters”

This November, the Thursday Reviews will be dedicated to some of the literature available on Resilience and Burnout. We’ll be examining how storytelling and narrative are essential to healthcare providers’ well-being.

Nov. 2 | Nov. 9 | Nov. 16 | Wed., Nov. 22 | Nov. 30

The Quiet Burnout Bombshell

One of the major ideas behind medical storytelling is that better physician-patient communication yields better results.1 Writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Dr. Neda Ratanawongsa, Dr. Debra Roter, Dr. Mary Catherine Beach, Shivonne L. Laird, Susan M. Larson, Kathryn A. Carson, and Dr. Lisa A. Cooper make a completely rational assumption:

[W]e hypothesized that professional burnout would diminish physicians’ inclination or ability to engage in rapport-building with their patients during routine medical visits. As secondary outcomes, we hypothesized that higher levels of burnout would be associated with less positive affect by physicians and patients, less patient-centeredness, shorter visit lengths, greater verbal dominance by physicians, and more negative patient ratings of satisfaction, trust, and confidence in their physicians.

It’s a kind of quiet bombshell, then, that after a survey of physician and patient interactions, no differences were evident in the rapport-building behaviors of physicians relative to their burnout scores.
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