Blog | Friday, March 6, 2015

Storytelling, narrative medicine, and the digital age


Narrative medicine and reflective exercises have been a very important tool in the education of medical professionals. With social media's integration into the fabric of society, it is important for today's trainees to understand the implications of public storytelling on one's professional persona. This recent editorial and article on the topic in the journal Academic Medicine describe the divide between digital natives and digital immigrants, and how each might have different viewpoints of how storytelling is disseminated.

And then here is another recent piece in The Atlantic about the topic, in which the author reflects on her writing about a patient experience and whether it should or should not be published.

I don't claim to have any of the answers for this myself. What is the correct approach to disseminating storytelling or narratives about patient encounters? Do others learn from it or not? Some pioneers are addressing this situation directly. Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, who has spoken at our institution about the public physician, has just announced a MOOC related to Medicine in the Digital Age.

What I do know is that medical schools really must teach this material to students and trainees. It is our obligation to the future of the profession to understand digital literacy and the impact of our storytelling on patients, each other and ourselves, given how easy it is to push out blogs into the public space.

Alexander M. Djuricich, MD, FACP, is Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education and a Program Director in Medicine-Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. This post originally appeared at Mired in MedEd, where he blogs about medical education.