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A Piece of My Mind
December 25, 2013

Five Voices, One Story

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville
  • 2Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
  • 3Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 4Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  • 5Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
  • 6Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
JAMA. 2013;310(24):2615-2616. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.283712

In the frenzied effort to teach medical students the vast quantity of science behind practice, the moral and personal development of the physician can be overshadowed. Through this multiauthored piece, the diverse stories of five medical students converge on a single focal point: narrative is a crucial tool for this growth. Chris touches on the imbalanced focus of education; Jennifer A. writes of experiencing clarity and finding meaning in her education only after the reconciliation of medical and narrative dimensions of a patient; Jocelyn of the too-huge nature of the physician’s calling; Jennifer S. of balancing the weight of knowledge with hope for a young patient; and Mark of the importance of acknowledging the rewards narrative offers us in an environment where that acknowledgment is not readily given. Rita is a professor of medicine and the executive director of Columbia’s Program in Narrative Medicine as well as a mentor to these students. Her writing cradles their voices as she asks the medical community to envision these individuals as their own students and perhaps even younger versions of themselves in training.