Private: Doctors, writing

Sheila Kohler, a former professor of mine, read at a Bellevue Literary Review event several months back. It was held at the front entrance of the Bellevue Hospital, where Walker Percy began writing after he contracted tuberculosis during his medical internship.

Christine Haughney, for the Washington Post, explains the magazine this way:

The nation’s most venerable public hospital and physician training ground has turned to literature to help its doctors better understand their patients, and themselves. All third-year internal medicine students are required to write 1,000-word essays about patients. Medical students and residents and interns listen to poetry at the end of rounds….

Literature is spreading its tendrils through hospitals nationwide. Harvard Medical School offers students a writers’ lecture series and professor (and New Yorker contributor) Jerome Groopman talks of Chekhov and Tolstoy during his rounds. Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons has started a journal.

But physicians and academics says it is especially fitting to house a literary medical journal in the 267-year-old Bellevue Hospital, a place synonymous with the public health movement in the United States. Its doctors have treated tuberculosis, leprosy and AIDS when private hospitals turned those patients away….

(Via New Pages Weblog.)