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patient stories

Ayesha Ahmad: “Stories are all we have”- reflecting on ‘An Imperfect Offering’ by James Orbinski

21 Nov, 11 | by Ayesha Ahmad

In ‘An Imperfect Offering’, a memoir written by James Orbinski on his travelling tales as a doctor working and bearing witness in some of the world’s most death-ridden and hostile regions, he writes of a man he met in Afghanistan who once said to him:

No scars, no story, no life. Sometimes, the best story is the space between the words – a space that is a window onto a different way of seeing. And when there are no easy answers, stories are all we have”.


Khalid Ali: Film Review: Asmaa: Directed by Amr Salama: Star rating ****

3 Nov, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

With annual World AIDS Day taking place 1 December, this new Egyptian film, which was shown at the recent London Film Festival, is very topical.

The subject of HIV in European and American cinema has of course been explored in many films (such as “Savage nights” (1992), “Philadelphia” (1993), “The Hours” (2002), and “Angels in America” (2003)). However depictions of HIV positive characters in Arab cinema have been scarce, characteristically portraying HIV patients as promiscuous sinners who deserve to be ill, or else as victims of an American conspiracy to spread HIV infection amongst young people in the Arab world. more…

James Poskett: Storytelling in the theatre

18 Aug, 11 | by James Poskett

Telling the Patient’s Story details a theatre company’s attempts to develop medical students’ case presentation skills. Workshops, covering everything from improvisation, personal monologues and body language, had a marked effect on the students, with all participants agreeing that the training improved their delivery of patient histories.

So, the arts and humanities can help medical students improve their case presentation skills thereby, in theory, benefitting future patients. Sounds like convincing evidence of the value of the humanities within the medical curriculum. Everyone happy? Well, not quite. One student offered the following feedback:

“[There is] too much focus on how this relates to medicine. We will realise that later.”


MASK:MIRROR:MEMBRANE-A Deborah Padfield Exhibition, London 6-16th July 2011

15 Jun, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

Here’s one for your diary, an exhibition of images by Deborah Padfield, in collaboration with patients & clinicians at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, entitled Can you see Pain? Anyone who knows Deborah’s work from her previous exhibition and book entitled Perceptions of Pain won’t want to miss this. more…

The Drama of Medicine-All the Ward’s a Stage: 8th Annual AMH Conference, 11-13 July 2011, University of Leicester,UK

13 Jun, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

Plans for the 8th annual conference of the Association for Medical Humanities are now well underway, with an exciting line up of papers, workshops and plenary speakers. Celebrated poet and doctor Dannie Abse will be running a session entitled Poet in a White Coat; Jed Mercurio, author of Bodies and creator of the TV series Cardiac Arrest, will speak on the Doctor as Antihero;  Professor Laurie Maguire, from Magdalen College Oxford, will explore Shakespeare’s guide to health and illness; and Matthew Alexander from North Carolina, a leading authority on the use of cinema in medical education, will begin the conference with a workshop and plenary address on this subject. more…

2011 International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine

17 May, 11 | by Ayesha Ahmad

I recently attended the 2nd Annual Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Symposium, which was held at Warwick Medical School and hosted by Professor Donald Singer and Associate Professor Michael Hulse. During the day, a group of researchers and clinicians from a variety of backgrounds gathered to explore the role of poetry in the discourse of medicine, including renowned poets, Marilyn Hacker and Gwyneth Lewis.


Dr Arati Bhatia describes her own humbling experience with cancer and chemotherapy

10 May, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

The drainage tube and the negative pressure bag were my constant companions for sixteen days. I was not always respectful of them, even bouncing them around occasionally. I had an intense sense of relief when we were finally parted. They had served their function well. The wound had healed, and there was no collection or infection. Cosmetically, it was a job well done.

Post-mastectomy the strangest sensation was the lack of it. My elbow was numb. I had been unaware of the importance of my elbow to my wellbeing. Now I am reminded every day of what has happened. The operated arm must enter the shirtsleeve or blouse before the normal one. Earlier I had never given much thought to this. Suddenly you are more aware of your own body and its vulnerability. more…

Medicine Unboxed 2011: Medicine and Values, Cheltenham UK 15 October 2011

5 Apr, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

Good medicine is more than a set of technical decisions and interventions involving drugs, operations or tests. It demands more of the practitioner – professionalism, empathetic care, moral consideration, insight, an understanding of human suffering and necessarily, wisdom. These attributes are not always prioritised in selecting for or training healthcare professionals, and there is little time or attention given to their authentic development within busy working environments. Further, there is a widening hiatus of trust, understanding and expectation between medicine and society around what constitutes good medicine. This pressingly requires real engagement around medicine’s role and society’s values. A purely scientific answer will never prove sufficient here.

Medicine Unboxed is a unique project and conference programme that engages both the public and front-line NHS staff with a view of medicine that is infused and elaborated by the humanities. Contributors include artists, writers, the clergy, poets, philosophers, lawyers, linguists, musicians, theatre, ethicists, academics and doctors. The results are thought-provoking, inspiring, sometimes funny and often

Our theme this year is Medicine and Values.

We think of medicine as simply fact-based, efficient and scientifically robust. These arbiters can become the measures of good medicine. However, medicine is infused with judgments of value – individually for doctors and patients but also in medical science, for society, for policy-makers and health economists. Ethics, law and religion inform duties and rights in medicine, through principles and values. The values that define good medicine are not always apparent or agreed upon and there remains the potential for tension between them.

We’d like to invite you to come along to Medicine Unboxed 2011 and join us in uncovering the values that pertain to medical care and debating the ambivalences around the arbiters of good medicine. Our speakers this year include the Rev. John Bell, John Carey, Lionel Shriver, Jo Shapcott, Ray Tallis, Paul Bailey, Michael
Arditti and Havi Carel.

Come to the debate – be inspired.

Sam Guglani, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

Oncologist Sam Guglani wonders what medical care really means

30 Mar, 11 | by Deborah Kirklin

Care infuses medicine. Well, the word ‘care’ infuses the language of medicine – Healthcare, Intensive Care, Palliative Care, Standard care, Standard of care, Best supportive care, Care Quality Commission. But what actually is medical care? more…

‘The Other Side of the Fence’ by Michael Corbo

11 Nov, 10 | by Deborah Kirklin

Medical student Michael Corbo reflects on what he’s learnt from being a patient.

I am sitting on a green chair in the waiting room. I have been sitting here for hours, but it feels like it has been days. I keep looking at the clock on the wall beside me. The room is filled with people, but all I can hear is the resounding ‘tick tock’ coming from my right side. A thousand beads of sweat start to develop on my forehead, one for every thought racing through my mind.

“Michael Corbo!” My heart stops. “The doctor is ready for you now.” more…

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