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ESSAY: Narrative Medicine Paper: To Isaiah: Dr. Donald Berwick’s Commencement Address to the Harvard Medical School Class of 2012

HCD 310 Assignment – Narrative Medicine Paper
To Isaiah: Dr. Donald Berwick’s Commencement Address to the Harvard Medical School Class of 2012
Humane and effective medical practice requires highly developed communication skills and narrative competence. The most effective physicians are able to connect emotionally with patients, feel their pain, join them on their journeys, and grieve with them. According to Charon, “Narrative competence is the ability to acknowledge, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others (JAMA, 2001).”
In this assignment, you will read Dr. Charon’s article on narrative medicine (JAMA, 2001) and use that model and information to assess Dr. Donald Berwick’s narrative competence, as illustrated in his commencement address to the Harvard Medical School Class of 2012 (JAMA, 2012). Both JAMA articles are available on Canvas.
Your grade will be determined by how thoroughly you address the following topics. You have wide latitude and are encouraged to include your own thoughts and arguments. Please structure your paper to include these subheadings:
I. Introduction/Background
• In addition to your own discussion about narrative competence in medicine, please include in your background section the influence of the biopsychosocial model of medicine on Charon’s model of narrative competence.
II. Dr. Berwick’s overall message to these graduating medical doctors
• In your own words, what was Dr. Berwick really saying to them?
III. Patient-Physician: Dr. Berwick’s Empathic Engagement
• Discuss Dr. Berwick’s connection with Isaiah, his patient.
• Do Bendapudi’s 7 “ideal” physician behaviors (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2006) align with Charon’s concept of narrative medicine as “ideal” patient care? If yes, how? If no, why not?
IV. Physician-Self: Dr. Berwick’s Reflection in Practice
• Dr. Berwick said, “I learned from Isaiah.” What do you think he learned?
V. Physician-Society: Dr. Berwick’s Grasp of the Meaning of “Public Trust”
• Discuss his statement to new medical doctors, “You will do two things…”
• Discuss Dr. Berwick’s understanding of the impact of the social determinants of health on patient care.
• How does narrative competence help society achieve health care’s Triple Aim? Address all 3 aims.
• Do you think physicians should be speaking out; i.e. communicating broadly, on health care policy? Why or why not?
VI. Conclusion
• How does narrative competence impact communication in health care?
• Reflecting on your chosen profession, how will you apply Charon’s narrative medicine model to improve communication with your patients/clients?
Paper Specifications
Length: At least 3-4 pages (a little longer is OK), 1.5 line spacing
Font: Times New Roman, size 12-point
References: At least 5 peer-reviewed articles, not including the ones assigned, listed and cited in APA format.
**See the grading rubric for this assignment on the next page.


I. Introduction/Background

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Medicine is a field with narrative concerns where human medical professionals provide their assistance to other humans. Therefore, the field requires continuous engagement between the practitioners and their patients. Narrative competence in medicine is essential to provide ideal care. A biopsychosocial model of medicine significantly influences Charon’s model of narrative competence. Thus, it assists in understanding the links that exist between physicians and patients. In general, narrative medicine provides a way that assists in understanding the medical practice, ideals of medical specialists, and means that may be applied to improve patients care and practitioner’s effectiveness. 

II. Dr. Berwick’s overall message to these graduating medical doctors

Dr. Berwick’s message to the graduating medical students at Harvard School of Medicine is that they ought to understand that they are healers that should always be ashamed of miseries they did not commit. Also, he urges the graduates to speak up by being confident, forceful, and loud in a way that they will stand to be trusted (Weiss & Swede, 2019). Dr. Berwick continues to state that they have been given the right and license; thus, they should always put the interest of their patients first. The oath they had taken had given them the power to have a voice in public discourse. Therefore, the message to the young graduating doctors was that they should be the voice of society and should strive their best to serve the people. 

III. Patient-Physician: Dr. Berwick’s Empathic Engagement (150 words)

The relationship between Dr. Berwick and Isaiah was that of a patient-doctor professional relationship. When they had their first meeting, Isaiah was 15 years. In their first encounter, Isaiah was so much in pain even though outside in the streets, one would fear him. After diagnosis Isaiah, Dr. Berwick found that he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. However, the doctor did not have his contacts, and so he had to seek assistance from the police to track him.

The doctor thereafter gave Isaiah the best of medical care (Hutto, Brancazio & Aubourg, 2017). He started his chemotherapy sessions even though Isaiah would relapse three years down the line. Later on, the doctor would recommend a bone marrow transplant as the only left way to treat him. He would be cured, and the two would have a close personal relationship. It is during their conversations that they would talk about his worries, hope, and life in general.  Physicians should, at all times, conduct themselves…

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