Original Article

CME Article: An Exploratory Study of a Fourth-Year Narrative Medicine Elective: Promoting Strategies for Personal Well-Being and Improved Patient Care

Authors: Sarah E. Stumbar, MD, MPH, Marthena Phan, BS, Marquita Samuels, MBA

Abstract

Objectives: Narrative medicine promotes the effective practice of medicine by requiring clinicians to listen to, reflect on, and manage not only the physiology of disease but also patient stories. The Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine offers a narrative medicine elective to fourth-year students who participate in reading, writing, and discussion activities that focus on processing their medical school experiences. This study evaluated the potential roles of this course in promoting strategies for personal well-being and improved patient care.

Methods: Students completed an anonymous, optional, postcourse survey consisting of Likert-type and short-answer questions. The Likert-type questions assessed students’ perceived impact of the curriculum on their knowledge of narrative medicine, likelihood to write about patients in the future, and their understanding of their own patient care experiences. The short-answer questions asked why students took the course and how they would apply their learning to patient care and their own well-being. These responses were analyzed separately by two coders through an inductive approach that grouped responses into themes, which were then agreed upon through an iterative process.

Results: All of the students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the course encouraged them to write, reflect, and share their experiences. A common theme across short-answer responses was a desire to write about, share, and reflect on experiences, as well as to develop skills regarding demonstrating empathy, processing emotions, and advocating for patients.

Conclusions: Students reported that the narrative medicine elective taught them strategies for improving patient care and personal well-being, which they planned to continue to practice in the future. These findings show how the practice of narrative medicine during medical school may provide opportunities to promote reflection and resilience.

This content is limited to qualifying members.

Existing members, please login first.

If you have an existing account please login now to access this article or view your purchase options.

Purchase only this article ($15)

Create a free account, then purchase this article to download or access it online for 24 hours.

Purchase an SMJ online subscription ($75)

Create a free account, then purchase a subscription to get complete access to all articles for a full year.

Purchase a membership plan (fees vary)

Premium members can access all articles plus recieve many more benefits. View all membership plans and benefit packages.

References

1. Yang N, Xiao H, Cao Y, et al. Does narrative medicine education improve nursing students’ empathic abilities and academic achievement? A randomised controlled trial. J Int Med Res 2018;46:3306–3317.
 
2. Charon R. Narrative medicine: a model for empathy, reflection, profession, and trust. JAMA 2001;286:1897–1902.
 
3. Stumbar SE, Bracho A, Schneider G, et al. Narrative medicine rounds: promoting student well-being during the third year of medical school. South Med J 2020;113:378–383.
 
4. Arntfield SL, Slesar K, Dickson J, et al. Narrative medicine as a means of training medical students toward residency competencies. Patient Educ Couns 2013;91:280–286.
 
5. Kumagai AK. A conceptual framework for the use of illness narratives in medical education. Acad Med 2008;83:653–658.
 
6. Milota MM. Narrative medicine as a medical education tool: a systematic review. Med Teach 2019;41:802–810.
 
7. Englander R, Cameron T, Ballard A, et al. Toward a common taxonomy of competency domains for the health professions and competencies for physicians. Acad Med 2013;88:1088–1094.