Using Narrative Medicine to Build Community Across the Health Professions and Foster Self-Care

Lauren C. Small, Leonard S. Feldman, Benjamin J. Oldfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Narrative medicine is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice based on the premise that medical care takes place in the context of stories: the stories patients tell their providers, the stories providers tell each other, and the stories providers tell themselves about the work they do. Research on physicians and medical students suggests that training in narrative medicine conveys benefits, such as improved communication skills, personal growth, and job satisfaction. The role of narrative medicine in interprofessional groups has been less explored. In 2014, we started an interprofessional narrative medicine program in the Children's Center of the Johns Hopkins Hospital called AfterWards. Through literature, art, and writing, we endeavored to nurture empathy, encourage reflective practice, and build community among a diverse group of health care providers: nurses, social workers, attending physicians, residents, fellows, and child life specialists. The program meets monthly and is open to all on a volunteer drop-in basis. After 18 months, we conducted interviews of a purposeful sample of our attendees for reasons of quality improvement and to assess the program's impact. Our findings suggest that narrative medicine might have unique benefits for interprofessional teams. In a hospital environment that is often hierarchical and siloed, attending a narrative medicine group reduces isolation among health care providers, makes them feel equally valued, and provides a platform to hear diverse perspectives. By moderating the stress that arises from the emotional labor of hospital work, narrative medicine may also enhance self-care. Here, we report on our program's structure, summarize findings from our qualitative study, and provide perspectives from two nursing participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-227
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Radiology Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Interprofessisonal team building
  • Narrative medicine
  • Self-care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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