Nine medical residents continued the tradition of reading their non-fiction narrative works aloud to the 18and Annual Yale Internal Medicine Writers’ Workshop Resident Lecture on February 3, 2022. Resident writers Lena Glowka and Stephanie Wu organized and moderated the event.
Mentored by Anna Reisman, MD and Lisa Sanders, MD, FACP, the writers wrote, edited, and practiced writing during a two-day workshop. Writing stories during medical training can provide a way to draw meaning from difficult experiences, improve thinking, and combat burnout. After the workshop, participants continue to work on revising their essays and stories with continued mentorship from Reisman and Sanders.
The Yale writers-in-residence who have read their work are: Christina Dimopoulos, Paul Eigenberger, Alexandra Lesenskyj, Augie Lindmark, Andrea Roberts, Nichole Roxas, Anita Vasudevan, Nate Wood, and Stephanie X. Wu. Twelve writers had attended the workshop but Alexis Cordone, Glowka and James Baier were unavailable to read.
Attending this year’s lecture was Vanessa Grubbs, MD, MPH, a nephrologist and internist with the Alameda Health System, Division of Ambulatory and Preventive Medicine in California. Prior to the reading, Grubbs gave the talk, “After Fingers Intertwined: Lessons Learned Since Becoming an Author,” as a speaker on Yale Internal Medicine’s major writing and medicine rounds.
“Having conducted ‘writing for change’ workshops with medical students, residents, and practicing physicians, I’ve been struck by the fact that only residents are capable of completing plays,” Grubbs said. “Medical students are filled with a lot of righteous indignation, but not enough knowledge or experience to fill a piece. And I guess practicing physicians are too overwhelmed with work and family and whatever else to keep up with. Perhaps the residents represent that place where outrage meets the experiences of our so-called health care system and compels them to stick to their tunes until they’re done.
Listening to Yale residents, Grubbs created an impromptu poem with lines from their work:
I walked in absorbing the tension in unity
I felt guilty for smiling
Each squeeze draws the remains of my lunch to the top.
24 eggs every day, they keep disappearing
Grow gardens around your pain
But I water it anyway
What happened, I was wondering
The more he died, the more his life became alive
Hurry up. It’s time to go. Time of death.
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The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine established the Writers’ Workshop in 2003. To learn more, visit the Writers’ Workshop.