Writing community: a humanism curriculum with an academic lens

  • Sigall K Bell | sbell1@bidmc.harvard.edu BIDMC, United States.
  • Edward Krupat
  • Sara B Fazio
  • Stephen Pelletier
  • RIchard Schwartzstein
  • David H Roberts

Abstract

Explicit teaching of humanism is a goal of education reform, but specific strategies to do so are limited. The authors developed a longitudinal third-year medical student curriculum combining reflective and academic writing with literary reading and reflection to i) improve writing skills, ii) enhance scholarly activities, and iii) foster humanism in patient care. From 2005-2007, 24 third year Harvard Medical School (HMS) participated in a writing program at this hospital. All students completed pre/post surveys and qualitative assessments of the writing program. Students felt better-equipped to access resources (P=0.03), conduct a literature review (P<0.01), and understand the meaning of the patient’s narrative (P<0.01) after the program. Their total survey score (assessing writing skills and attitudes) was also significantly higher after the program (P=0.02). Students described positive effects of writing on self-acceptance, curiosity, and patient-centered care. Of the 24 students, 4 published 5 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals in the first 2 years of the program. A writing curriculum focusing on humanism is feasible, and can enhance comfort with writing, early publication successes, self-awareness, and perceived humanistic qualities in the interactions of third-year students with their patients.

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Author Biographies

Sigall K Bell, BIDMC

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Division of Infectious Diseases, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Edward Krupat
Director, Center for Evaluation, Harvard Medical School
Sara B Fazio
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School 
Stephen Pelletier
Research Coordinator, Center for Evaluation, Harvard Medical School
RIchard Schwartzstein
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
David H Roberts
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School
Published
2011-04-12
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Innovations
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How to Cite
Bell, S. K., Krupat, E., Fazio, S. B., Pelletier, S., Schwartzstein, R., & Roberts, D. H. (2011). Writing community: a humanism curriculum with an academic lens. Medical Education Development, 1(1), e4. https://doi.org/10.4081/med.2011.e4