The Voices in Humanism initiative is a collaboration between The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine’s Gold Humanism Honor Society Resident Chapter and the OSU Medical Heritage Center. The mission is to collect, preserve, and share the arts created during this challenging time. Students, residents, faculty, staff, alumni, and all members of the healthcare family submit all forms of visual arts, writing, and music to the collection. To view the full collection, visit the Voices of Humanism webpage.
The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) is partnering in this initiative by highlighting pieces of work each week in the Weekly Family Medicine Update, as well as on the Joy Among Chaos webpage. If you would like to contribute to this collection and share your own piece of work that reflects thoughts during this time of dual pandemics as we struggle to understand the impact on our patients, their families, our communities, our profession, and ourselves, we encourage you to do so. Submissions may be emailed to LCStoneMD@columbus.rr.com.
Below is a submission from Linda Stone, MD, special assistant to the dean for humanism and professionalism at the OSU College of Medicine. As a creator of this collection, Dr. Stone shares her thoughts on its importance.
“From our first day as family physicians, we are surrounded by the stories of our patients, their families, the communities we serve, and even our own stories. In understanding those stories, we find the humanistic essentials for the practice of family medicine. A pandemic does not change that, but it does intensify the importance of those stories. Wherever we serve in the healthcare environment, we absorb the stories of others and we live our own story. During this difficult time, these stories take on even greater significance.
So, it was important for us associated with the OSU College of Medicine to begin to collect those stories hoping to preserve them through an initiative called Voices in Humanism (Voices). A collaboration between the OSU Medical Heritage Center (MHC) and the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s (GHHS) Resident Chapter, Voices set out to collect, preserve and share the art work created during this time that tells the story of many of us as we traveled through this dual pandemic. What have we witnessed with the challenge of this novel coronavirus and what have we struggled with in light of the Black Lives Matter movement?
In April of 2020, poetry, paintings, photography, and music began to appear as we called on our medical community to share their art with us. Medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, alumni, allied medical personnel, faculty, and staff art emerged and were stored in the archives of the MHC. To support our residents on the front lines of patient care, we began to share the Voices collection. A photo of a virtual medical school graduation, a poem about the challenge of caring for patients in a pandemic, a collage that captured the myriad emotions of the day, a story from the perspective of a third-year medical student, and the travels of a little dog coping with isolation—all of these stories became part of our Voices. Soon, other groups in our medical family requested a visit from our Voices artists. During difficult times, the arts communicate for us and tell a story sometimes too hard to put into words.
Medicine has always been enriched by the humanities. Sir William Osler called on us to remember, “The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.” As family physicians, we have always sought the patient’s story and, in the tradition of the story-tellers of the past; we have honored the words of our patients as essential to their care. How often have we counseled our medical students to listen to the patient, they are trying to tell you the diagnosis. And, more importantly, they are trying to tell you their story, the story that is the foundation of the patient-physician relationship.
As family physicians, we have a time-honored tradition of strong patient-physician relationships. Those relationships are built on the patient’s stories and those are intermingled with our own stories. We make up a community of those seeking more than care during illness. We also seek the health and wellness of our patients. And, we seek the transformation of medicine itself through the lens of family medicine. Our Voices initiative, in the middle of an academic medical center, is just one more example of how family physicians re-imagine medicine everyday whether at the bedside, volunteering in our communities, serving in organized medicine, or teaching the next generation of physicians. We have always been at the forefront of innovative, patient-centered care. Medicine needs us now more than ever.”