The Least of These: Reading Poetry to Encourage Reflection on the Care of Vulnerable Patients

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

How do we encourage medical students, residents, and physicians to reflect critically and empathically on the plight of vulnerable patients? Exposure alone may not be sufficient, as some evidence suggests that contact with such patients leads to more negative attitudes in trainees.1 A series of 16-line poems2 (11 total, 3 quoted below) by physician-poet Rafael Campo offers provocative material that can easily be integrated in discussions of both novice learners’ and experienced doctors’ clinical interactions with the under-served and other vulnerable groups.

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