Story-in-Place, April 11, 2020

Story-in-Place is a workshop to give healthcare providers a forum tell their stories during the COVID-19 crisis. The session will be online on April 11, 2020 at 2pm Pacific. Registration is free.

We’re living through a crisis and a profound shared experience. Healthcare providers and related fields are on the front lines. One of the ways that our connected world is dealing with the COVID-19 emergency is by seeking out, telling, and sharing stories.

If you’re a healthcare provider or work in a healthcare-adjacent profession, please join us. Maybe you want a space to share your story, or maybe you want a way to help process what’s going on.

In this workshop, we’ll briefly go over some fundamental elements of storytelling. Everyone will have a chance to reflect on their own stories and experiences from recent weeks. Those who would like to are invited to work through their own narratives with support from the other participants.

Thursday Review: “The Nurse and the Use of Narrative: An Approach to Caring.”

How do we understand our own illness, and how does it affect us? When a patient is ill, how can healthcare professionals—especially nurses—help shape a positive understanding of what is happening?

In the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, J. A. Aloi discusses techniques to help patients edit their own story. Although focused on mental health, the author includes how the generalist nurse in all areas of nursing can help patients create multiple perspectives.

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Thursday Review: “Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out”

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

“What’s my motivation?”

It’s a simple questions at the heart of examining our own behavior. So much so, that it’s cliché to imagine a fussy actor hassling their director for an answer.

Building on Maslach’s work1, 2 (mentioned previously) Gail Gazelle, Jane M. Liebschutz, and Helen Riess discuss coaching. Professional coaching is widely used in other sectors, and is finding its way into the medical profession.
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The Examined Life Conference 2017

The Examined Life Conference is a gathering for the medical humanities hosted by The University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. The conference is focused mainly on the intersection of writing and medicine, and is cross-pollinated with the literary chops of organizations like The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and The Iowa Review.

Dr. David Thoele, the Director of Narrative Medicine at Advocate Children’s Hospital, has been going for years. He introduced me to the conference, and convinced me to submit a workshop.

Now that the conference is behind us, here are some thoughts as I reflect on what I took away:
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Thursday Review: “Forming a Story: The Health Benefits of Narrative”

Telling a story is good for your health

In the Journal of Clinical Psychology, James W. Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal study a group of students instructed to write about a traumatic experience, and then measure both the mental and physical health outcomes of those students. The results were measured against a control group, who were instructed to write strictly descriptive passages.

The participants who wrote about a traumatic experience recorded significantly fewer visits to a doctor in the months following the exercises.

The authors also review studies across a wide range of demographic groups which reveal that similar exercises produce positive effects on blood markers of immune function, are associated with lower pain and medication use, are linked to higher grades in college, and are even associated with faster times to getting new jobs among senior-level engineers.
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