Becoming a doctor: fostering humane caregivers through creative writing

Patient Educ Couns. 2001 Oct;45(1):13-22. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(01)00135-5.


We qualitatively examined themes covered in a creative writing elective designed to enhance pre-clinical medical students' writing, observation, and reflection skills relative to experiences in their medical education. Qualitative analysis of writings' themes was carried out via iterative consensus building process and validated through member checks and literature review. Fourteen students completed the elective, seven for each year it was given. Students submitted 86 written pieces. Qualitative analysis demonstrated the presence of nine themes: students' role confusion, developing a professional identity, medicine as a calling, physician privilege and power, humanizing the teacher, the limits of medicine, death and dying, anticipating future challenges, and identification with the patient. Students evaluated this creative writing course favorably, indicating value in writing and reflection. Themes covered are of concern to second-year medical students as well as other trainees and practicing physicians. Writing may aid in the professional development of physicians.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Choice
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Creativity
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Empathy
  • Humanism*
  • Humans
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Power, Psychological
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Concept
  • Socialization
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Writing*