Grounding Medicine in Humanism

In an eloquently written essay in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Dr. Paul Rousseau challenges future and present health care professionals to “return medicine to its Oslerian and Hippocratic roots, roots that care for the patient in all domains.”

As a medical student, I can attest to how difficult it is to balance obtaining the patient information needed to make a diagnosis while paying adequate attention to his or her emotional needs. In addition, with so much paperwork, bookkeeping, classwork, studying and the rigors of the technical side of medicine, it often feels impossible to stop, take a step back, and ground oneself in activities which enhance our awareness of our patients and the humanistic side of medicine.

Luckily, in the midst of this crazy, fast-paced profession, there are events like the “Night of Stories and Art,” which celebrated creativity, artistry, and imagination. Paula Lucuara, a fourth-year medical student, created this event to energize those in the medical profession, and fuel creativity among her peers. And indeed she and the members of the Gold Humanism Society were successful in doing so.

The event, featuring original pieces of writing, poetry, and artwork authored by fellow medical students and doctors, was well attended and beautifully put together. With every reading and poem, I was driven to reflect on my experiences with patients and how my actions can speak louder than words. I was reminded how much can be learned by merely observing those we are healing and caring for.

“It is a nice opportunity to have a reason to write creatively for my peers,” says second-year medical student Raymond Lorenzoni. “It is something we don’t get to do often in this profession.”

Rousseau’s challenge is certainly made easier through embracing other facets of ourselves. Through events like the “Night of Stories and Art,” not only can we, medical professionals and students, celebrate our creativity outside of medicine and science, but hopefully we can also transfer that passion into celebrating the beauty that is our patients.

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