• Article
  • April 12, 2021

Children's Hospital Addresses Provider Resilience Through Narrative Medicine

A story-telling resource to benefit providers, patients and families.

Medical professionals routinely take patient medical history when providing care. A grant-funded project at Akron Children's Hospital will take that idea a step further to encourage use of literature and personal stories to promote resiliency for providers and their patients.

The $20,000 grant from Ohio Humanities will go toward “Taking Our Histories: Providing Hope Through the Humanities,” a yearlong project that includes narrative medicine workshops for health care professionals at Akron Children’s, as well as patient families through the hospital’s Parent Advisory Council.

Narrative medicine uses the reading of poetry, literature and reflective writing to help build narrative competence, which increases staff ability to acknowledge and interpret the stories of their patients and families. By exploring how stories are told through literature, health care professionals are better able to identify, follow and hear patients’ narratives and provide better care.  

Nicole Robinson, M.F.A., narrative medicine coordinator at Akron Children’s, is leading the project with Cassandra Hirsh, D.O. “Through our series of workshops and training, we will give voice to health care professionals during a time where their human experience, perhaps more than ever, carries a historical relevance,” Robinson says. “The program will allow us to include more of our medical staff in this process, as well as bring this resource to more patients and families.”  

The project includes these goals:

  • Minimize the negative effects of compassion fatigue and moral distress for providers.
  • Strengthen provider resilience.
  • Inform the community how the humanities can be useful for health care providers.

Project work will provide data and a collection of stories compiled from participant reflective writing.

Catherine Kelly-Langen, M.D., a pediatric palliative care physician, says she’s seeing benefits to participating. "Being able to set aside designated time to process my emotions and express how our intimate, complex, profound work affects me is a true gift,” she says. “Having an outlet to express myself in a safe space is amazingly beneficial." 

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