CINCINNATI—A nationally acclaimed physician-author who says creative writing can improve a doctor’s clinical skills will deliver the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) 2007 Hutton Lectureship in Ethics.
Abraham Verghese, MD, will discuss “The Pen and the Stethoscope—How Literature Informs Medicine,” at noon Tuesday, Nov. 13, in Kresge Auditorium.
Verghese directs the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics and is the Joaquin Cigarroa Jr. Chair and Marvin Forland Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
He argues that by incorporating literature into medicine, physicians are able to hone their abilities to understand, properly observe and “connect with” a patient.
These important diagnostic skills, he says, directly lead to quality patient care.
“Language is essential for diagnosis, but danger greatens when physicians begin to think of their patients as simply the ‘diabetic foot in bed two,’ the ‘myocardial infarction in bed three’ or the ‘chronic renal failure in bed five,’” Verghese says.
“One of the major causes of patient dissatisfaction with doctors is their failure to communicate that they care and their failure to truly place themselves in the patient’s shoes,” he says. “Physicians need to recognize the voice of the patient, not just the formal voice of medicine for diagnosis.”
Verghese’s logic was most recently confirmed in a 2006 Yale University study that found that medical residents who completed a creative writing workshop felt better equipped to understand the viewpoint of the patient.
Creative writing, the researchers concluded, can offset negative approaches to medicine, including disillusionment and a lack of emotional engagement and commitment to patients as persons.
Verghese is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases and infectious diseases. He earned his medical degree from Madras University in India and completed an internal medicine residency at East Tennessee State University and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Boston University. From 1991 to 2002, he was a professor of medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
A noted writer, Verghese has authored two national bestselling books, “The Tennis Partner,” and “My Own Country,” which was later made into a Showtime original movie. He also is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Texas Monthly.
UC’s Hutton Lectureship in Ethics, now in its fourth year, is an annual, endowed lecture named in honor of John Hutton, MD, former dean of the UC College of Medicine.
The lecture is free and open to the public, but reservations are encouraged. For more information, call (513) 558-0905 or visit health.uc.edu/alumnigiving/hutton.html.