Johanna Shapiro, PhD
Reflective writing, subsumed under the umbrella of narrative medicine, is now widely recognized as a vehicle for cultivating a reflective practitioner, enhancing professionalism and humanistic qualities. Both Suzanne Poirier’s Doctors in the Making: Memoirs and Medical Education and Johanna Shapiro’s The Inner World if Medical Students: Listening to Their Voices in Poetry are exemplary volumes providing evidence that capturing and interpreting the lived experience of doctoring through the written word can be a valuable tool in medical education. For students, Poirier asserts that “effective narrative writing can provide one of the most efficient routes to self-understanding” (169). For medical educators, these authors’ compilations and scholarly analyses of student and physician narratives help to illuminate core issues in medical education, including the developmental process of achieving a humanized professional identity. Poirier’s excerpt from the writings of a chief resident challenges the medical community with its directness: “There is a standard curriculum to teach the scientific component of medicine, there is, however PO standard curriculum to teach the emotional component.” These memoirs and poems speak for themselves, providing a compelling argument for attending to both the intellectual and emotional processes of becoming a physician: in essence, what Poirier has referred to as a “more healthful process of medical education” (94). Physician, heal thyself.