Thursday, August 2, 2012

Letra de Medico and Narrative Medicine

I returned today from my native Cordoba, Argentina. Not surprisingly, I spent much of my free time lying about the house and reading books.Not idle time at all! I even managed to write and submit another essay. Keep your fingers crossed on its acceptance for publication.

I fortuitously came across a title, Letra de Medico, by Argentine physician Carlos Presman. The book is a collection of essays and reflections on medicine and on doctoring. Presman is by no means the first physician to turn to narrative and written reflection as means of understanding either the human condition or the doctor-patient relationship. Many of the stories are rich and full of humor, underscoring the beauty and importance of humor as a healing art.

Most importantly, Presman reminds us that each patient is more than a mere clinical encounter. Every patient is a biography and a unique personal narrative, where the physician's role is to astutely read, understand, comprehend an take part in the 'story',  so as to better appreciate the experience of illness and to employ healing as an art and not merely a science.

I fully believe in the importance of narrative medicine as a model for medical practice. A insightful article on narrative (free and online) was published in 2001 in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). I highly recommend it.

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