Monday, December 8, 2008

Patient narratives in medical education.... where are they?

Since my post about students learning from patient narratives in online forums I have been thinking a lot about how much emphasis we place on patient narratives in medical education.

When talking to individual patients we ask students to consider and explore the patient's experience of their illness along with the history of when symptoms developed and how they have responded to treatment. The exercise I blogged about asks students to compare the narratives of one family with that of others in the course and beyond.

But how often are the findings of qualitative research, which is in a sense about bringing together patient narratives, contributing to medical education? For example, there are several qualitative research studies (here and here for example) on heart failure finding that patients want to know more about prognosis from their physicians. But are we teaching students this? Does the Oxford Textbook of Clinical Medicine discuss the experience of being diagnosed with diabetes or heart failure? Well, I can't find it.

Is it time that we stopped seeing patient narratives as an add-on and started moving it to centre-stage in medical education?

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