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Week 2: Foundations of Narrative Medicine and Health Inequity

After intros and an overview of the syllabus and course schedule, I acknowledged the recent death of Tyre Nichols in our city of Memphis. Prior to class, it was difficult to anticipate what this conversation would look like with students that I had not met yet, but I wanted to make space for grappling with yet another incidence of police brutality in our nation.

The students launched into a discussion about the readings and specifically the AMA table about key principles and associated terminology (see below).

*Watch Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care.

*Read Part II of Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (pgs 65-104).

*Read AMA Advancing Health Equity: Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts Intro, Part 1: Health equity language, and Part 2: Why narratives matter (pgs 4-27).

Some highlights of our conversation include:

-Person-first language. i.e. the impact of “underserved communities” vs. “communities that have been underserved by/with limited access to ____”

-Difference between when people choose to identify with certain words vs. when labels are imposed on them by others (i.e. victim, survivor)

-Does altering language affect clinical care and/or outcomes? Does raising awareness about the importance of person-first language actually alter patient-provider relationships?

We discussed ways that people are “made vulnerable” and about what is meant by the idea that “we need to change the narrative,” and we closed with a reflective writing exercise about experiences with healthcare.

My Week 2 lesson plan and slides are included below:

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