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The Arts and Medicine
October 16, 2018

Teaching Physicians Not to Be Afraid of Poetry

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of English, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
JAMA. 2018;320(15):1520-1521. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.13760

At the Ninth Annual Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Symposium, convened in May 2018 at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, physician-poet Rafael Campo, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, was joined in conversation by National Book Award–winning poet Mark Doty, distinguished professor of English at Rutgers University. An excerpted transcript of the first half of their dialogue follows—condensed and edited for clarity and concision. The second half of the dialogue appears in an accompanying Arts and Medicine article.

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2 Comments for this article
Poetry and Medicine Are Sides of a Coin
Suzanne Edison, MA, MFA | Seattle Children's Hospital
I'm so glad JAMA published this piece. I have just finished a book of poems based on 28 interviews with patients, caretakers, researchers and doctors all around autoimmune diseases. We will be having open, public readings soon. I am also teaching a course at Hugo House in Seattle called The Words to Say It: Writing About Illness, Trauma and Healing and I strongly believe in the importance of telling our stories as a way of containing and rewriting our experiences. Rewiring our neural pathways as well, so we can think better and advocate for our selves and others.
Poetry For its Own Sake
David Katz, MD | University of California-Davis School of Medicine
I am very glad to see this reporting. Poetry is one of the ways that health care providers, whatever our training, can share with each other. This sharing is also a way to support each other in our difficult work. It is a way to build the trust that we each need by sharing with those in our professional support system. I have shared my poems with colleagues from time to time.