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We Write the Stories

Updated: Aug 26, 2022


We may study similar topics, and we may treat the same patients, but we always tell the story from a different point of view. It doesn’t mean that the facts change. Each one of us brings a unique sense of perspective, as we approach the needs of our patients.

I think about the connections that we make with our patients.


Whenever we are talking to patients about what caused them to seek medical attention, there’s always some sense of narrative. This narrative might come from the patient directly. It might come from an EMS report, an emergency room physician or even a family member.

As a physician and storyteller, I enjoy making a connection with my patients.


This connection helps me learn more about the patient, and it gives me more information as I’m treating their ailment. Even on the television series House, Dr. House has asked some of his colleagues to break into people’s’ houses to get more information about the patient and the circumstances relating to a disease. I’m not suggesting that we break into our patients’ houses, but it is an example of the desire to get to the bottom of what’s causing a medical condition.


I notice that some physicians and nurses tend to know a lot of facts about their patients.

They might know about the social aspects and even get a sense of connection to that patient that is not personal but is one that creates a good bedside manner and creates a human connection.


Sometimes this gathering of facts is compiled into very detailed notes. Other times you see very brief notes that get to the point, but don’t reflect what that person knows about the patient. That same note may not reflect all the interactions with the patient.

When I see a situation in which physicians and nurses know a lot about their patients, I wonder what sparks the memory to make that connection.

I think at least one aspect of this connection relates to stories.

  1. Many of our patients are telling a story as they tell us about what happened to them that brought to the hospital.

  2. They also tell us about their grandkids.

  3. They tell us about their nieces and nephews.

I believe that this very sense of storytelling is a way that we remember our patients and connect with them.


I think about when a specialist comes to me and asks me about one of my patients. Many times I can recall the patient’s entire story. I remember details possibly because of a significant medical condition, but it’s also because of the story that the patient has related to me.


I think that we are all, at some level, connecting and creating those stories. We’re creating the visuals in our minds as we create the memories of what has happened to our patients. Sometimes these become long-lasting memories because of some significant event. Other times they are brief memories.


I encourage you to keep listening to the stories and to tell your own stories. When we tell stories about our own experiences, we connect to the other members on our wellness teams.


What story can you relate to a colleague to help with team building or contribute to the team experience?


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