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Document Typology: Newspaper / Magazine article
Methodology addressed by the publication:Narrative medicine
Title of document: Personal Illness Narratives: Using Reflective Writing to Teach Empathy
Name of author(s): Sayantani DasGupta, Rita Charon
Name of publisher: Academic Medicine, 7 9 , 4, 2 004 pag. 351-356
Language of the publication: English
Language of the review: Italian
Summary:
Reflective writing is one established method for teaching
medical students empathetic interactions with patients.
Most such exercises rely on students' reflecting upon
clinical experiences. To effectively elicit, interpret, and
translate the patient's story, however, a reflective practitioner
must also be self-aware, personally and professionally.
Race, gender, and other embodied sources of identity
of practitioners and patients have been shown to influence
the nature of clinical communication. Yet, although
medical practice is dedicated to examining, diagnosing,
and treating bodies, the relationship of physicians to their
own physicality is vexed. Medical training creates a dichotomy
whereby patients are identified by their bodies
while physicians' bodies are secondary to physicians'
minds. As a result, little opportunity is afforded to physicians
to deal with personal illness experiences, be they
their own or those of loved ones.
This article describes a reflective writing exercise conducted
in a second-year medical student humanities seminar.
The "personal illness narrative" exercise created a
medium for students to elicit, interpret, and translate their
personal illness experiences while witnessing their colleagues'
stories. Qualitative analysis of students' evaluation
comments indicated that the exercise, although emotionally
challenging, was well received and highly
recommended for other students and residents. The reflective
writing exercise may be incorporated into medical
curricula aimed at increasing trainees' empathy. Affording
students and residents an opportunity to describe and
share their illness experiences may counteract the traditional
distancing of physicians' minds from their bodies
Reviewer's comments on the document:
La crescente attenzione alle pratiche di tipo riflessivo nella formazione in ambito sanitario hanno sollecitato il dibattito sull'utilizzo di metodologie e strumenti che aiutino il discente ad apprendere, valorizzando l'esperienza realizzata nella pratica clinica. Gli studiosi di medicina narrativa hanno osservato che le connessioni fra la riflessione e l'empatia viaggiano su due direzioni che riguardano emotivamente sia chi elargisce la cura, sia chi la riceve, e si alimentano vicendevolmente. Quando i professionisti o gli studenti riflettono sulle proprie esperienze di vita ed esaminano le relazioni che si sono innescate nel prendersi cura dei malati, diventano tanto più disponibili ed utili per i pazienti. La consapevolezza esplicita dei propri sentimenti e delle proprie esperienze rende più profonda la capacità di rispondere in modo empatico, mentre la loro disponibilità con i pazienti li spinge ad essere più tolleranti con se stessi.
Where to find it: The article is indicated on Pubmed and available on Google http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15044169

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