Use of a writing elective to teach cultural competency and professionalism.Edit

Wilkinson JE.

Fam Med. 2006 Nov-Dec;38(10):702-4.

The Department of Family Medicine at Boston University implemented a writing elective for third and fourth year medical students that “offers experience in narrative medicine, serves as a teaching tool for both professionalism and cultural competency, and is a distance/Internet learning experience.” Narrative medicine is defined as “medicine practiced with the narrative competency to recognize, interpret, and be moved to action by the predicaments of others.” Their course is a semester-long (14-week) course that students take alongside clinical clerkships and electives. All the discussion takes place in an online forum. With seven 2-week blocks, students examine various themes such as death and dying, cross-cultural medicine, the transformative experience of illness, the journey of medical education, and the challenges of life as a physician. There are readings from various texts and students post their responses. There is also a writing assignment for another forum with topics such as “Write about a time when you didn’t know what to do” or “a patient who scared you.” There is also a midterm paper and a final paper. In this course other themes are introduced such as professionalism and cultural competency. While it is not necessarily training in either, it causes students to think about their lives and their own actions in relation to patient care.

Back to Related Articles.