Take Two Poems and Call Me in the Morning: Reading Medically Themed Poetry for Insight and Renewal

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Despite the chronic overload of patients and paperwork experienced by many doctors, this paper argues that doctors should make time occasionally to read and reflect on a medically themed poem. Reading poetry can reduce the burnout and isolation many physicians can come to feel as a result of medical practice. In addition, by helping doctors to see their daily professional life from a different perspective, poetry can lead to creative new ways of interacting and even intervening with patients. Possible outcomes for physician-readers include renewal, inspiration, and re-commitment to core values of service and patient care.

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