Using stories in a complex and ethical manner can address the sense of 'othering' - being made to feel distinct and less than - felt by many in the health care system. Stories, instead of medical cases, honour and represent the standpoints and lived experiences of people. Stories help us appreciate what is common across all of humanity, thus emphasizing our connection as human beings. Stories can also foster comfort with complexity and uncertainty, necessary to provide compassionate care to patients who live complex, storied lives.
Stories demonstrate the context-situated nature of disadvantage, illness, or disability, and avoid the conflation of one's health status with one's identity. Stories have the ability to shift our narrow focus from disadvantage being a fixed characteristic, residing within a human being, to the view of a whole person within which disease, disability, or illness is only one of many moveable parts. They do so by demonstrating the intricate web of human lives within society.
For further reading
- Charon, R. (2001). Narrative medicine: a model for empathy, reflection, profession, and trust. JAMA, 286(15), 1897-1902.
- Frank, A. W. (2013). The wounded storyteller: Body, illness, and ethics. University of Chicago Press.
- Kumagai, A. K. (2008). A conceptual framework for the use of illness narratives in medical education. Academic Medicine, 83(7), 653-658.
- Kumagai, A. K., & Lypson, M. L. (2009). Beyond cultural competence: critical consciousness, social justice, and multicultural education. Academic Medicine, 84(6),782-787.
- Kumagai, A. K., Murphy, E. A., & Ross, P. T. (2009). Diabetes stories: use of patient narratives of diabetes to teach patient-centered care. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 14(3), 315.
- Nisker, J., Martin, D. K., Bluhm, R., & Daar, A. S. (2006). Theatre as a public engagement tool for health-policy development. Health Policy, 78(2), 258-271.
To cite this work: Ng S, Baker L, Friesen F. Teaching For Transformation. An Online Supplement. [Internet]. 2018. Available from www.teachingfortransformation.com
Centre for Faculty Development, University of Toronto at St. Michael's Hospital.