22 8 / 2014

‘The dirty nurse, Experience…’

frontier nurse‘in her kind/ Hath fouled me–an I wallowed, then I washed–‘ thus says Sir Dagonet, King Arthur’s court jester,  in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Last Tournament.”

‘The dirty nurse, Experience’ may be a familiar, overused, and ill-used phrase. Dirty, as in sullied and morally corrupt, or as in human and grounded to the reality of life, of what it means to be human? Nurse, as in nurturing, care…

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11 8 / 2014

Narrative Medicine “Closer” Close Reading In Practice

1384151134Over the past several weeks, in the narrative medicine (NM)  summer course I am teaching, we have been using the ‘closer’ NM close reading approach that I proposed in my last blog post: focusing on the elements of emotion, silence, surprise, and metaphor/imagery. I’ve also asked the students for written feedback on what it is like to use this closer reading technique, as well as how they envision…

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30 7 / 2014

A Narrative Medicine “Closer” Close Reading Drill

DSC00673In the narrative medicine course I teach at the University of Washington I have been using Rita Charon’s narrative medicine close reading drill (as described in her chapter “Close Reading” from her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness, Oxford University Press, 2006). I was taught this  narrative medicine close reading drill in the workshops I have taken with Dr. Charon at…

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23 7 / 2014

Where Community Health Nursing Has Taken Me

DSC01485I’m into the power and nuance of stories and storytelling and lately have been focused on digital storytelling (DST). I have some of this content in my Soul Stories project section on this website, but I also wanted to expand upon it here.

DST refers to short video segments (typically 3-5 minutes in length) personal narratives that incorporate digital images, music, and voice-over narration by…

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16 7 / 2014

The Problem(s) With Narrative Medicine

booksNarrative medicine is growing in popularity in academic medical centers and healthcare settings. Developed over the past decade by physician and literary scholar Rita Charon and colleagues at Columbia University, narrative medicine (as defined by Charon), “fortifies clinical practice with the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and be moved by the stories of…

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06 7 / 2014

IMG_0404 - Version 2Here’s my favorite excerpt from Washington State’s poet laureate Elizabeth Austin’s powerful poem “The Girl Who Goes Alone” (From her collection Every Dress a Decision, Blue Begonia Press, 2011):

“I walk into the wilderness alone because the animal in me needs to fill her nose
with the scent of stone and lichen,
ocean salt and pine forest warming in early sun.

I walk in the wilderness alone so I…

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03 7 / 2014

Call the Midwife! The Hobby Lobby Won

Call_The_Midwife_2433160b“A woman’s right to control her own body is taken for granted now, and younger people can scarcely believe that abortion used to be a criminal offense, punishable by a prison sentence for the woman and the abortionist,” wrote Jennifer Worth in her article ‘A Deadly Trade’ (The Guardian, 1-5-2005).

Jennifer Worth worked as a midwife and district nurse in London’s impoverished East Side…

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25 6 / 2014

When Is It OK to Write About Patients?

DSC01479I write about patients; I ask my students to write about patients. I do this as part of reflective practice and with the knowledge that it can contribute to humanizing health care for patients, families, and health care providers. But writing about patients has to be done in a respectful way, with adherence to certain ethical and legal guidelines. By now we all know that it is not okay to write…

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20 6 / 2014

Got Medicaid (Expansion) Virginia?

DSC00367_2My hometown of Richmond, Virginia is fond of putting large statues of white men on horses in the middle of its streets. Richmond is also the setting for a political and health care drama of Southern Gothic proportions. Virginia is an ACA non Medicaid expansion state, but the state’s leaders have been debating Medicaid expansion over the past year. Earlier this month Phillip P. Puckett, a Virginia…

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14 6 / 2014

Why We Need the Homeless

IMG_1955 - Version 2As Phillip Lopate points out, perverse humor and contrariness can help us break through our ingrained ways of thinking, and can help us view emotionally charged problems in our world through a more constructive lens. With that in mind, here’s why we need homelessness, why we shouldn’t be trying to end or reduce homelessness at all, but rather encouraging it. I was influenced by Herbert Gan’s…

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