Can poems make you a better doctor?
- By: Johanna Shapiro, Sarah Mourra
Medical educators are always experimenting with different ways to develop self aware, reflective, empathic, and compassionate doctors. One of these ways is poetry, which can help medical students by offering a unique method for re-examining self, others, and the world. The importance of poetry in medicine is increasingly being recognised. An international symposium will be held at Warwick University, UK, in 2011 (see www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/med/research/csri/research/cpt/poetry/symp/).
Why should medical students take time to write a poem about their clinical experiences rather than polishing their case presentations for morning rounds? Why should an overburdened medical student read a poem about medicine rather than a report on a double blind randomised controlled clinical trial? Although some medical school curricula include poems about medicine, and many medical schools publish original student poetry, not many medical students turn to poetry to better understand their profession. But poetry about going through medical education and the nature