The Power Of Narrative Medicine

Check this out. What you will see is a piece that focuses on the importance of a physician allowing a patient to tell her story. Her whole story. For multiple reasons. As the Columbia narrative medicine website explains:

“The care of the sick unfolds in stories. The effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence is a model for humane and effective medical practice. It addresses the need of patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard and to be valued, and it acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received.”

SO. Allowing the patient to tell her story, and listening carefully and acting accordingly, helps the practitioner to get valuable clues about a condition that might otherwise be missed. AND. It allows the patient to feel empowered and involved in her own healthcare. AND. It may even make the caregiver feel better about a warmer, friendlier approach to medicine, and perhaps be less prone to burnout as a result.

Bottom Line. We have talked often about the increasing focus on “efficiency” in the delivery of medical care. See more patients. In less time. I’ve got to believe that narrative medicine is one of the first things that will fall victim to a focus on increased clinical speed.


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