Many changes that will occur in healthcare will find their origins in our medical schools. That’s why articles like the one written by Pauline Chen, M.D. capture my imagination and inspire hope for the future of healthcare. Dr. Chen’s New York Times article, “The Doctor as Poet,” tells the story of a poetry contest held by Yale University School of Medicine and University College London Medical School. Medical students were invited to send in submissions for a chance to win a $1,500 grand prize. The schools were astonished by the number of submissions (160) and the interest of medical students in expressing themselves through poetry.
In her article, Dr. Chen points out the long-standing connection between poetry and medicine:
“Poetry has long been linked to medicine; in mythology, the Greek god Apollo was responsible for, among other things, both healing and poetry. And poets like John Keats, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and William Carlos Williams were all trained as doctors. For them and other physicians of their time, reading or writing poetry required skills not that dissimilar from those employed in daily clinical work — an ability to connect emotionally with the subject, as well as careful attention to rhythm, whether it was in the form of verse or heartbeats and breathing.” (Source: New York Times, December 1, 2011)
I am encouraged by stories about med students being engaged through poetry, the arts and technology. For more about this particularly story, go to http://tinyurl.com/7olqp6r. If you’re interested in reading some of the winning poems, go to http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/doctors-poetry/. They are amazing.