Medicine's Mesh of Stories: How the Practice of Narrative Medicine Drives Cross-Campus Collaborations and Community Engagement



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For physicians, to practice narrative medicine is to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness. These skills are vital to good care. As a medical humanities scholar, I take narrative medicine in new directions. First, in ethics, I argue that "cases" miss the point. Instead of case's narrow framework, medical students should grapple with fictional stories' complexities, which better prepare them for real-world problems. Second, I co-lead Off Script, a twice-annual event that teaches participants to respond carefully to others' stories and to convey their own in compelling ways. The storytellers become better-equipped to partner with patients and to engage in impactful health advocacy. Finally, I contribute to an innovative collaboration - led by physician Winston Liaw and writer Martha Serpas - training medical students to reflect not only on patients' stories but also on those of families and neighborhoods in the marginalized communities we seek to serve.



narrative medicine, medical humanities, health humanities