Literature & Medicine
A reading and discussion program for health care professionals.
Literature & Medicine
Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare
Encouraging health care professionals to connect the worlds of science and lived experience, giving them the opportunity to reflect on their professional roles and relationships through reading plays, short stories, poetry, fiction and personal narratives and share those reflections with colleagues.
Literature & Medicine is the only national program that engages a cross-section of experienced health care professionals with the humanities. Program participants work in all aspects of patient care and include nurses, physicians, support and allied staff, administrators, clergy, social workers, and therapists in hospital, home health, hospice, and public health settings. The program is an innovative and cost-effective way to improve patient care while contributing to participants’ job satisfaction. Increased respect among colleagues in different disciplines and job descriptions builds community within an institution and helps ease feelings of futility and isolation. As one participant wrote, “It feels wonderful to come back to why I was attracted to medicine in the beginning and to share dialogue with others who care.” In the words of another, “This program brings joy to my work.”
“This helped foster communication across the hierarchy of medical culture, which was great and much needed.”
"The book group was an excellent opportunity to come together as a staff
and talk about issues of concern that we don't often get an opportunity
during school-sponsored workshops to discuss."
"I found myself feeling better connected to the day to day issues
affecting the many young people I have had the good fortune to teach."
“I am amazed by how differently we read these books. It makes me wonder how differently we hear our patients’ stories. And how our patients perceive us.”
“I now think about what people are feeling when they approach my desk, and I am more conscious of the fact that I am the first person they speak to when they come to the hospital.”
“I always knew my role [as a nurse] was valuable, but I think I more fully understand how far-reaching that can be. I have learned how important it is to listen to each individual, to hear what their need is and also to hear the needs of the extended family."
"Our staff is often without opportunities to have deep, professional
discussions outside of our departments. This is such a shame. This
experience was a chance to know and share time with colleagues who I don't
often see or spend time with. There is one colleague who I have had some
trouble with... we have very different outlooks. I have come to understand
a bit more about where she is coming from, which has encouraged me to seek
her out on a couple of occasions to check in informally. I have felt
better about this relationship, and I believe that the exposure through
this group has been what has sparked a change."
“The program helps me reaffirm the need to attempt to bring a supportive healing attitude to my work area.”
“I joined this group due to burnout. Burnout is not about waiting until you feel like you can’t do your job—it’s constantly asking yourself what you are doing and feeling and helping prevent burnout from occurring by paying attention every day, not waiting until too late.”