Friday, August 31, 2018

Stressed out medical professional trainees/students? There's a quiet poetic (R)evolution in the air

For five  earlier articles depicting how the medical arts have devolved, scroll through my blogs beginning with the seminal one entitled Crises in the Medical Arts: Returning Medicine to Patient Centered Care Giving.

The links between the healing arts and poetry are well known.

The Statute of Apollo Outside the National Academy of Athens
Apollo was recognized as the god of healing, poetry, music, truth,
the sun and light and much more  

 For instance,  poets including  John Keats, William Carlos Williams and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  all received medical education.

The composition, recitation and listening to verse is known to release pent up feelings of angst, sadness, sorrow and depression--making it much easier to deal with these stressful feelings. (this subject to be explored in a forthcoming article)

Perhaps one  of the most calming and stress- relieving poems  is Psalm 23 which begins with:
"The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want."

The verse soothes all those who are  stressed through life's  travails  with its lovely images such as  being lead beside still waters and being guided on the right paths,  though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. 

So it comes as no surprise that poetry would be a tonic for the  proverbially overworked medical trainee.

Kudos to the pioneering steps of St. Andrews Medical School (founded in. 1413) that acknowledges the healing benefits of poetry and the practice of humanistic medicine.

Tools of the Trade is a pocket size 
book of collected poems for doctors, It is
small enough to pull out and read when needed
photo from the Scottish Poetry Library.

Each year, each of the circa 900 Scottish medical school graduates receives "Tools of the Trade: Poems for new Doctors."  It's a small volume, less than 100 pages--thus easily potable.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "the poems are grouped into five themes designed to help young physicians: looking after yourself, looking after others, beginnings,  being with illness and endings."

May this project, though in its infancy, continue to blossom and spread the seeds of empathetic humanistic medicine.



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