Narratives in Medical Curriculum

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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou 

Writing medical histories through the narrative form is currently being incorporated into curriculums in medical schools in many parts of the country. Medical students are learning how to better assess medical conditions through more intensive listening to the patient, and recording what they hear into narrative forms. The goal is to make healthcare decisions for the patient based not only on statistics and tests but by also “reading” a patient’s unique personal story of how they are feeling and their own symptoms. 

Why is the addition of the narrative form being incorporated into the way medical schools have traditionally taught students to diagnose illness? Empathy for the patient has been missing in this age of highly developed technical medical testing. Listening to a patient’s story leads to a better understanding of the whole picture of a person’s medical situation. A person’s emotions and spirit about the way they are feeling is part of the overall report, too. 

Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, http://www.danpink.com/whole-new-mind explains how our society is on the brink of a whole new age of thinking. We have gone from an agricultural age (farmers) through the factory age (industrial), to the information age (business based on knowledge workers) to the emergence of right thinking business people, who are creators and empathizers. Surprisingly, we are moving into an age where more Americans are beginning to work in fields such as arts, entertainment and design than those working left brain fields (accountants, lawyers, insurance adjustors). In order to be accomplished in these growing fields of work, right brained thinking skills must be used and developed. 

Prosperity and abundance has brought a whole new need for fulfilling emotional, aesthetic and spiritual needs. Jobs in the “caring professions” counseling, nursing, healing are surging, too.  They are not jobs that can be decimated by workers overseas who can work faster and cheaper.

To read more about this movement toward the new conceptual age and right brain thinking that Pink claims will change the world, pick up A Whole New Mind.  Many libraries have it and it is a Business Week best selling book. It’s a fascinating read.

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