CHEST 2023 to highlight inspirational, practical impacts of narrative medicine

Two sessions at CHEST 2023 will highlight a skill often underutilized among medical professionals: storytelling.

While most clinicians aim to live in the black-and-white world of science, sharing human experiences that highlight the gray areas of the profession is a way to empathize and connect with others in the field.

The Power of Narrative Medicine, on Sunday, October 8, from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm HST, in Room 313A of the Honolulu Convention Center, will feature two professionals who have captured audiences by sharing their experiences in medicine. Rana Awdish, MD, FCCP, from Henry Ford Health, and Avraham Z. Cooper, MD, from The Ohio State University, will highlight the value of finding one’s voice as a health care professional, its impact outside the immediate clinical space, and the power of narrative medicine. The session is designed to guide, inspire, and embolden attendees to share their stories with others.

Abhishek Bhardwaj, MD
Abhishek Bhardwaj, MD

“Everyone’s experience is unique, but, at the same time, many of us in health care collectively experience similar joys, traumas, and challenges,” Session Chair, Abhishek Bhardwaj, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor at University of California, Riverside, said. “We often experience powerful and life-changing moments but don’t know the right platform or medium to share them. We want attendees to know they’re not alone in their journey.”

But don’t worry—public speaking isn’t required to participate. The session will also highlight the value of humanism in clinical medicine and provide attendees an opportunity to reflect on their own emotional journey. 

“I believe stories can change people’s hearts,” Dr. Bhardwaj said. “This session will give attendees time to pause and reflect on where they are and where they are going through subsequent stages of their careers and what truly matters. We want to build a community of health care professionals at CHEST where we inspire each other to share our unique experiences and skills.”

CHEST After Hours, on Tuesday, October 10, from 3 pm to 5 pm, in Room 306B, is another special session designed to embrace the personal aspects of medicine and celebrate its connections with art, music, experience, and empathy for others.

Gabriel T. Bosslet, MD, FCCP
Gabriel T. Bosslet, MD, FCCP

“The value of storytelling is that it lays bare the commonalities in the human experience, regardless of specialty or profession,” CHEST 2023 Scientific Program Committee Vice-Chair, Gabriel T. Bosslet, MD, FCCP, said. “The idea behind the session is to use stories we frankly all have to highlight those connections.”

Storytelling can be a surprisingly practical skill for clinicians and researchers to develop. For physicians, connecting with patients on a human level builds trust and fosters improved communication. Researchers, for example, must create a compelling narrative around their data for the findings to clearly illustrate the impacts of discovery.

“People often think being a scientist and being a storyteller are two different things, and I think that’s a complete fallacy,” said Dr. Bosslet, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Indiana University and a presenter at last year’s inaugural event. “Being a good storyteller will only make you a better scientist because even scientific lectures, in my opinion, should include storytelling.”

To get more information about CHEST After Hours, including a highlight video from last year and a list of this year’s featured speakers, read more CHEST Daily News.