medical humanities

Facebook Live

Our first Facebook Live event! We discussed doctor-patient communication, medical humanities, the Bellevue Literary Review, patient support groups. And we had a book giveaway. Hope you can join us for the next one on Monday Dec 11 at 2:15 pm.   More

Why Medicine Needs Poetry

“When patients come to us with headache, and stomach pain, and foot pain, and 300 other issues, they are really speaking in metaphor. We may call it somatization disorder, or write them off as “complainers,” but in fact, it is metaphor. To be skilled clinicians—and to get the right diagnosis—we must be able to interpret our patients’ metaphors.” More

A Singular Intimacy

Despite enormous advances in healthcare, patients and caregivers alike are dissatisfied with their experience. So much of medicine has been boiled down to rote algorithms and assembly-line care. Seeking inspiration from the gripping narratives of urban medicine to the unlikely poetry of the ICU, Danielle Ofri probes the most fundamental aspect of medical care—how caregivers and patients connect. More

Poetry in Medicine

When I make rounds with medical students and interns, I’ve often tried to sneak in a poem at the end. It’s not always the most well-received bit of medical teaching, More

Documentary: Why Doctors Write

Ken Browne Productions is excited to launch the trailer for the film, “Why Doctors Write: Finding Humanity in Medicine.” Danielle Ofri is filmed at Bellevue Hospital along with one of her long-time patients. When completed, the documentary will explore storytelling and creativity in medicine. More

Adding Spice to the Slog: Humanities in Medical Training

As soon as we’d finish rounds on the medical wards I’d race to pass out an Anatole Broyard essay in the nanoseconds before dispersal entropy overtook our team. More

Storytelling in Medicine: the Passion and the Peril

So much of medicine is about stories—the ones we hear, the ones we tell, the ones we participate in—that it is no accident that doctors and nurses are attracted to stories. More

Literary Publishing at Bellevue Hospital

Watch a video about literary publishing at the oldest public hospital in the country. The Bellevue Literary Review and the Bellevue Literary Press are the first ever literary publishing ventures in a medical center More

Maladies, Remedies, and Anthologies: Medicine Taken at Its Word

The urge to anthologize seems to be one of those primordial drives, nestled in our genomes alongside the compulsions to eat heartily, imbibe lustily, and slaughter enemies willfully. Or at least that’s how the Greeks appear to have experienced it. More

Chekhov and Public Health

At first glance, it might seem odd that a public health journal would initiate a section about arts and humanities. Public health, after all, deals with populations; it eschews the individual except as it forms one of a group. The creative arts, however, deal almost exclusively with individuals. Literature, in particular, always has a protagonist, and the protagonist is never ‘alcoholics with pancreatitis,’ ‘female prisoners receiving hepatitis B vaccination,’ ‘South Asians with cardiovascular risk factors,’ ‘UK asylum seekers with infectious disease,’ or ‘teenaged asthmatic smokers.’1 A protagonist is an individual.

Madame Bovary, Huckleberry Finn, Jay Gatsby, Pip, Hamlet, Odysseus, Harry Potter, Holden Caulfield, Captain Ahab, Anna Karenina, Sherlock Holmes and Jean Valjean are individuals, not populations. What happens to each is entirely unique. There is nothing in their characters that is ‘applicable’ to larger populations; they define individualism. Our pleasure in reading these novels is the exhilaration of being swept up in the singular journeys of these remarkable individuals. More

The Debilitated Muse

Poetry is a supremely sensory art, both in the imagining and in the writing. What
happens when the poet faces illness? How is the poetry affected by alterations of the body
and mind? More

Dance and Medicine

It was on a desolate winter evening that I escaped from Bellevue. I plunged the last IV of my day into someone’s vein and then hopped on an M-15 bus uptown, pressing my subway token into the slot with both anxiety and relief. I was in the second year of my internal medicine residency training, the middle year, which is marked by what is charitably called a “dip” in motivation. More accurately, it is a pit, a chasm, an abyss, a Stygian marsh. More

A Conversation with Alan Alda and Frank Stella

Danielle Ofri had the honor of appearing with Alan Alda, Frank Stella, Paula Scher, and Nobel Laureate Gunter Blobel in a panel discussion at Rockefeller University. The topic was “Compelled to Create.” More

An Outbreak of Poetry (and Prose) at Bellevue

The waiting area in Bellevue Hospital was full. Every chair was taken. But the people kept streaming in. More chairs had to be brought in.  It wasn’t clear if the room could accommodate everyone. This wasn’t the emergency room or the clinic waiting area, however. It was the scene of the Bellevue Literary Review poetry … More

Music and Medicine

The moment has finally arrived. After 3 years of sweating through etudes, scales, and Suzuki practice books, my teacher utters the words that every cello student yearns to hear: “It’s time to start the first Bach suite.” Studying cello as an adult hasn’t been the easiest task. But neither is medicine. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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