Why Storytelling is Critical in Medicine?

Why Storytelling is Critical in Medicine?

Posted Oct 18, 2021 from

I love stories, either told, written, or listened to. Songs tell stories, as does art. Blogs such as the rich content open so many doors for rich conversations. Telling stories is part of who I am.

I love stories, either told, written, or listened to. Songs tell stories, as does art. Blogs such as the rich content open so many doors for rich conversations. Telling stories is part of who I am. My father loved to tell them, as did my grandfather, whose name I took. They were called bull-sh*tters – and perhaps some refer to me that way at times. In medicine, I find storytelling to be critical. Each time we present a case, we are telling a story. Those residents and students who can present a case to me in a way that draws me in while giving me the necessary facts, but goes the next step that allows me to see that person in their life are the ones I know will be amazing doctors.

Information that goes unshared is considered information lost. However, stories need not always be shared. I encourage all of my students to write down their stories now. Memory is nasty and tends to erase such information over time in all of us. In writing a story, we capture it for ourselves and can reflect on that event and grow from it. That is more than enough. We bring concepts to reality by sharing a story by framing a lesson in a life event others can relate to. Reading about a disease pales in comparison to seeing a patient with that disease. The latter is not always possible. Hearing a case enhances learning, and this is why medical schools have drifted away from lectures to small group learning. These formats revolve around shared stories that allow each student to care about the patient and become invested in learning about the illness. In time who we saw and who we heard about become blurred – but the knowledge survives.


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