Storytelling is a powerful tool that can be used to shape our reality and reconnect with our patients. Building meaningful relationships with our patients reminds us the importance of the human experience in providing clinically excellent care.
Stories are a core component of interpersonal relationships and provide a framework that enhances our ability to make sense of significant life events and share our experiences with others. Ars Medica is a documentary that compiles stories about physicians and their experience of a lifetime practicing the art of medicine.
When the Chilean College of Physicians granted me the opportunity to produce this film, I never imagined how the process would turn into a transformational experience that changed the way I perceived my role as a physician and guided me to pursue a career in the field of health communication.
The first thing I noticed was the common narrative that started to emerge from the interviews, a narrative that was filled with a sense of gratitude toward the meaningful relationships that marked their professional path. At first, I thought they were talking about their relationship with their mentors, but as I listened more carefully, I realized that they were also referring to their patients, and how much they learned from having a close relationship with them.
One of the professors explains that patients are like books, that we learn from them at the same time we take care of them. This idea changed my whole perception about what takes place during the medical encounter and made me realize that the real value of the doctor-patient relationship is manifested through the stories we share with our patients and the ones we share among colleagues.
Human interaction takes place in the context of stories. However, these relationships are being oppressed in a system designed to meet the interests of business conglomerates, and the further we move from relational to transactional care, the more we become isolated and unable to share and learn from our experiences. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can be used to shape our reality.
As medical professionals, we’re used to being surrounded by stories about life, death, hope, and even love. Because this becomes a part of our daily lives, we don’t realize how relevant these stories about the human experience can be across cultures. If we can find new and creative ways to communicate our thoughts and emotions, and inspire each other to share these stories without compromising the privacy of our patients, perhaps we can to break the cycle of isolation and regain our role in creating a culture of health.