Scholarly Concentration in Physician as Communicator

Concentration Director:

Teresa L. Schraeder, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Family Medicine
Alpert Medical School
[email protected]

Overview

Physician communication skills are an essential aspect of medical education as well as the practice of medicine, from excellent writing and effective speaking to improved communication with patients, peers, care teams, and the press. Building bridges within the profession and with the rest of the society, relies on the individual and collective skills of physicians to listen, question, translate, synthesize, analyze, write and speak effectively.

The Medical Journalism and Physician Communications Scholarly Concentration will offer guidance, support and structure to medical students interested in all aspects of medical writing and communicating.

First, medical journalism is at the forefront of this concentration. Medical and science narrative non-fiction in the form of popular books, articles, blogs and podcasts, currently permeates our world. Today, medical journalists translate, illuminate and expose the complexity and mystery of medicine at a variety of levels.  This body of work provides insight into the two worlds of medicine and journalism and shows us how shared skills of observation, conversation, empathy, translation and writing are so relevant to understanding each other and caring for our patients.

This concentration would be suitable for students who would like to learn not only how to read and critique the work of medical journalists but how to improve their own writing, journalistic and communication skills from the academic press to popular articles for the public.

Medical students interested in the power of the word using a variety of different media would be encouraged to sign up for this concentration.  The written, spoken, electronically broadcast or visually displayed forms of expression regarding medical information will all be part of the curricula. The students will focus on their particular area of interest in their particular medium and then meet regularly with other students, complete research and writing projects, provide updates to their mentors, and meet all of the ongoing requirements throughout medical school.

The Physician as Communicator Scholarly Concentration, not only provides a foundation of helpful information and support but will also give the student a greater understanding of the world of medical journalism and the broader world of physician communication. Students will learn how to critically review and assess medical writing and language, including editing and revision skills as they navigate submission, final editing and publishing. This concentration will  offer support, guidance and tools to help the student complete a unique writing or media research project of their own design.

The Physician as Communicator Concentration can easily overlap or help facilitate and encompass ideas and topics from any of the other scholarly concentrations. Any student who wants to focus on one of the other concentrations specifically could also benefit from involvement in Physician as Communicator to help collect, write and present their research work and/or to take part in the preclinical elective course on medical journalism. We welcome all students and look forward to hearing about their ideas.

Learning Objectives

·         To find one’s voice and ultimately improving the ability to write, speak, produce, publish and review medical communication in a variety of different media 

·         To become familiar with all genres of “medical writing” both past and present and analyze the various aspects and responsibilities of medical journalism and communication.

·         To learn concrete ways to research a topic including looking at communication within the medical profession, and direct one's research and writing for the desired audience from academic journals to articles for the lay press.

·         To master the ability to select a project and then provide an outline, conduct interviews, literature reviews, and to bring the project to fruition – all the while learning more about the entire process of writing for publication from query to submission.

·         To improve one’s ability to communicate, to speak and give presentations on medical subjects before others and to listen critically to others' presentations.

·         To provide the student with a forum to capture and express in words, pictures or sounds the experiences and lessons during medical school education and offer results and conclusions that might illuminate and improve the communication within the medical education system.

Curriculum and Evaluation

The student who selects this concentration will be responsible for:

1.        Elective Course: Attendance and participation in the current medical student writing elective course. This elective meets 8 – 10 times (two-hour sessions) during the fall or spring semester. This ongoing elective provides a core support group of other student writers and excellent resources for any student interested in medical journalism. Visiting journalists and scholars, review of published articles, author events, writing contests, submission support, and didactic lectures may all be offered. The regular weekly sessions provide an opportunity for students to meet with each other, present their work and receive feedback, and assistance in having their work edited and submitted for publication.  The medical students who participate in this concentration will also provide administrative help with the course including planning events of interest to the writing class.

2.       Scholarly Project: This scholarly concentration will require completion of a major communications project such as an in-depth article (3,000 words plus), a book (including initial outline and all or most chapters completed), or documentary (edited and ready for submission or broadcast) or series of written articles on a particular subject of interest to the student.

3.       Regular Updates: The student will be required to have regular contact with their mentor and concentration director. The mentor along with the concentration director, will oversee the scholarly project and provide regular updates and feedback.

4.       Reading List: Completion of selected articles and books from a master reading list that will include medical literature, medical journalism, medical narrative, medical mystery, medical nonfiction and grammar and will be distributed to the students and updated regularly.

5.       Presentations: The student will be responsible for presenting their final work in front of the medical students writing elective course and possibly a larger audience including other medical students and faculty.

Timeline

The student applying to the Physician as Communicator Scholarly Concentration should have a focused idea for a particular writing or communications project (book, series of articles, documentary, website, podcasts, etc.) outlined that will act as the basis for a summer experience, as well as for the final scholarly product.  The student must outline this project in detail and complete the Scholarly Concentration application.

During the summer between Year I and Year II, the student will spend 8-10 weeks working on their communications project.  The student’s work might include the completion of certain written products (the quantity of which to be agreed upon by the student and faculty mentor ahead of time), the collection of information including literature searches, readings, interviews, and research. This work will form the basis of the student’s final scholarly project. If the student has secured an internship/externship in the medical communications field for the summer between Year I and Year II, the student will still be responsible for collecting and researching the bulk of information needed for their final scholarly writing project. The student will meet with the concentration leader and/or their mentor before the summer and make a commitment to present their research and data in a poster presentation.

Major activities for students in Years II –IV involve staying in regular contact with the concentration director, participating in the Physician as Communicator elective, conducting any further research or interviews necessary, and completing the final scholarly product.

Concentration Related Electives

Pre-clerkship:
BIOL 6539: Exploring the World of Medical Journalism

Maximum Number of Students: 10

Project Examples

The student’s scholarly project could include a first-person narrative of clinical work or research topic in book form; an in-depth exploration of a particular area of interest in public health; an article or series of articles on a topic in the biological sciences or bioethics; an audio or video documentary on a controversial topic in medicine; or an autobiographical sketch of an individual in medical history --- as well as any other topic the student, mentor, director and scholarly concentration committee determine acceptable to meet the requirements for a scholarly concentration project in medical writing or communications.

Student

Project Title

Mentor

Lauren Park

Creating and testing tablet-based patient education programs

Joseph Diaz, MD

Carmen Kilpatrick

Breastfeeding Education for Medical Students

Courtney Bilodeau

Anna Delamerced

The stories of scars: Exploring narratives of hurt and healing

Kaichu Lee, MD; Jay Baruch, MD

Vishal Khetpal

Money and medicine: confronting and understanding resource allocation practices in American Healthcare

Dr. Ira B. Wilson; Dr. Teresa L. Schraeder

Cynthia Peng

Effect of music intervention as a non-pharmacological tool in improving quality of life of palliative care patients

Kate Lally, MD, FACP

Joseph Dizoglio

 

William Hogan

 

Soumitri Barua

 

Amador Delamerced

Adeiyewunmi Osinubi

 

Lydia Ademuwagen

A study of women physicians writing science fiction, 1950-Present

 

The Good Doctor: Reflections on Virtue for Physicians

 

 

The Social Burden of Skin Cancer: Patient Experiences

 

“Firsts”: A Podcast About First-time Medical Experiences

Black Motherhood Through the Lens

 

 

Black in Medicine: An examination of the experiences of Black students to and through medical school

Edward Stopa, MD

 

 

Teresa L. Schraeder, MD

 

Joana Walker, MD

 

Teresa L. Schraeder, MD

Taneisha Wilson, MD

 

 

Taneisha Wilson, MD

 

 

 

Faculty Mentors

Courtney Bilodeau
Joseph Diaz, MD
Kate Lally, MD, FACP
Kaichu Lee, MD
Joana Walker, MD
Dr. Ira B. Wilson
Taneisha Wilson, MD