Using Narrative Medicine to Prevent Burnout

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2022

According to Riddhi Shah, M.D., there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to self-care.

“For some people its travel or going on a spa day. And other people, it’s taking a day at home to relax, not talk to anyone and put your phone on airplane mode.”

For Dr. Shah, writing has been that self-care outlet. She and her colleagues at the ACP created a monthly workshop using narrative medicine to aid with physician wellness.

“When I went to the ACP conference in Chicago, it was just a very energizing experience. While I was there, I met a wellness champion for ACP and was already doing a lot of narrative medicine. That’s when we decided to collaborate on this workshop and open it up to as many people as possible.”

Dr. Shah says she always considered herself to be a writer but it’s something that gets harder to do with a busy career and busy life.

“Writing doesn’t have to be a big production,” she said. “It can be something you do for a few minutes every day to collect your thoughts and reflect.”

“Narrative medicine” is a tool that has been proven to aid with burnout prevention for physicians. The workshops focus on listening, reflective writing, and sharing of stories.

Dr. Shah said, “We have a tremendous privilege in medicine. We get to help people feel better and get healthy and stay feeling well but we also see people at their most vulnerable and it can be a lot of process not just has a patient but also as a physician. Especially if you’re a physician who is also coping with other chronic health issues.”

“I think it’s important for people to take that time to nourish themselves and do something that makes them happy,” she said. “Because if we’re not at our best, we can’t give our best to our patients.”

The Writers Wellness Workshops occur on the first Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m. To register visit: Meeting Registration - Zoom

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