Penn Today      May 7, 2018

Summary

Seven medical school in Philadelphia are participating in a story slam in an effort to create open dialogue among doctors, nurses, and medical students who often struggle to express their feelings.

“In the medical literature these days, there’s a lot about physicians and med students being burned out, depressed, or anxious—or even suicidal. Storytelling addresses that problem directly,” says Douglas Reifler, associate dean for student affairs and medical humanities at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, who helped organize the inter-school slam. “The more sense of meaning in our work and purpose, the less likely we are to be depressed or burned out in doing it. In medicine, there’s a risk in going through a lot of phenomenally dramatic experiences, but having to minimize any reflection about them—to put them behind us and move on.

“Storytelling requires taking a step back, reflecting, and discerning what is meaningful and often inspiring about the experiences we’ve had.”