Narrative medicine as a means of training medical students toward residency competencies

Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Jun;91(3):280-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.01.014. Epub 2013 Feb 23.


Objective: This study sought to explore the perceived influence of narrative medicine training on clinical skill development of fourth-year medical students, focusing on competencies mandated by ACGME and the RCPSC in areas of communication, collaboration, and professionalism.

Methods: Using grounded-theory, three methods of data collection were used to query twelve medical students participating in a one-month narrative medicine elective regarding the process of training and the influence on clinical skills. Iterative thematic analysis and data triangulation occurred.

Results: Response rate was 91% (survey), 50% (focus group) and 25% (follow-up). Five major findings emerged. Students perceive that they: develop and improve specific communication skills; enhance their capacity to collaborate, empathize, and be patient-centered; develop personally and professionally through reflection. They report that the pedagogical approach used in narrative training is critical to its dividends but misunderstood and perceived as counter-culture. CONCLUSION/PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Participating medical students reported that they perceived narrative medicine to be an important, effective, but counter-culture means of enhancing communication, collaboration, and professional development. The authors contend that these skills are integral to medical practice, consistent with core competencies mandated by the ACGME/RCPSC, and difficult to teach. Future research must explore sequelae of training on actual clinical performance.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Communication
  • Competency-Based Education*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Focus Groups
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Narration*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires