This paper explores the benefits reading and writing medical poetry can benefit preprofessional/medical students, physicians, and patients as a means to share the experiences they
encounter in the medical world. The concept for this paper originates from the idea of narrative
medicine as a way to foster relationships between physicians and patients through the sharing of
stories, or narratives, between the two parties. In efforts to help teach this skill, universities and
medical schools have begun to offer courses in the medical humanities. The goal of these courses
is to teach students how to develop the skills they need to empathize and learn from their
patients’ experiences. Paired with the traditional rigor of a science-based curriculum, the medical
humanities have become part of medical schools’ efforts to “train the whole physician.”
Medical poetry is an example of the types of humanities courses that can benefit students
interested in medicine. The history of medical poetry spans across decades of literary history.
Beginning with the early references of medicine from the ancient world to the contemporary
work of the present, poets of different backgrounds and histories are discussed. Research to
support the efficacy of medical poetry include studies done on how medical poetry has impacted
students, readers, and patients. Finally, the author’s experiences as both a pre-professional
student and patient are shared to further explore the benefits that reading, and writing can bring.
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