AC: Writing helps me make more sense of residency. I think it helps me be a little more deliberate about why I’m doing what I’m doing, and helps me understand the patient’s point of view.
Explore This IssueDecember 2018
There’s a whole field called narrative medicine, where a physician will write a piece about a patient interaction and actually use that in their therapeutic relationship with that patient—essentially saying, “Here’s how I was thinking during the interaction we had.” I have done that once, not specifically for a therapeutic relationship but because the interaction, about an awake tracheotomy, was particularly intense. I was thinking about publishing the article and wanted to have the patient and his family read it to make sure they were okay with everything I had written. And that was a surprisingly vulnerable experience as a physician.
I took a break from writing other than journaling during my internship and 2nd year because I was just too busy, but by the middle of my third year I had started writing about my intern year. If you have something you love to do outside of medicine, don’t force it. Be kind to yourself and take care of your immediate needs; the thing that you love to do will always be there.
Amy E. Hamaker is a freelance medical writer based in California.