University, Renown Health create literature and medicine program

2/10/2009 - By: Laura Levin

The University of Nevada School of Medicine received a $3,000 pilot grant from Nevada Humanities to team up with Renown Health to create a literature and medicine program inspired by the Maine Humanities Council’s Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care®. The partnership between the School of Medicine and Renown Health includes the participation of Washoe County physicians as well as the University of Nevada, Reno, Division of Health Sciences faculty and Renown employees, from administrators to clinicians.

The literature and medicine program encourages participants to connect the worlds of science and lived experience, giving them the opportunity to reflect on their professional roles and relationships through plays, short stories, poetry, fiction and personal narratives in a setting where they can share their reflections with colleagues. It has had a significant effect on the way participants understand their work, and their relationships, according to Marin Gillis, Ph.D., director of the medical humanities and ethics division at the School of Medicine.

Susan Palwick, Ph.D., associate professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno and a volunteer chaplain will facilitate the book groups with the next session held Tuesday, Feb. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Renown Health, Classroom 107. The group will discuss The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. All interested health care professionals are welcome to attend.

“As a busy physician, I often find that I don't have as much time as I'd like for personal growth and reflection on a day-to-day basis,” said Christopher Stanton M.D., a Renown Health physician practicing in Sparks. “‘Nevada: The Literature & Medicine’ reading group is a convenient, valuable, high quality vehicle to facilitate our medical souls."

The literature and medicine program was first piloted in Maine in 1997. Since then, health care professionals in 79 hospitals and community health care facilities in Maine and 13 partnering states have participated. The literature and medicine program is a national award-winning, hospital-based, scholar-led humanities reading and discussion program for health care professionals for the benefit of both patients and doctors.


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