Being ill, or caring for a patient, is a highly personal experience. But sharing those experiences "about the way healthcare really is" could be cathartic. Perhaps it could contribute to a conversation about healthcare -- outside the Beltway and raucous town hall meetings -- that would lead to a better system.
That's the idea behind Pulse -- Voices From the Heart of Medicine. The online magazine, based at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, collects personal stories from health professionals and patients and e-mails one of the stories or poems to subscribers each Friday.
Here's an excerpt from a recent essay:
As I teach first- and second-year medical students to take patient histories and to perform physical examinations, I always feel humbled and privileged -- energized by their compassion, enthusiasm and facile, curious minds.
Occasionally, I feel particularly challenged -- especially when I'm teaching a student who, though bright, is struggling to acquire some of medicine's basic skills. As we journey up the learning curve together, my responsibilities can conflict: as a teacher, I want to nurture an aspiring student physician, yet as a physician, I must ensure that patients receive appropriate care.
Now, sitting quietly in the corner of the room and watching a young medical student interview a county hospital psychiatric patient, I begin to feel this tension.
"What brought you into the hospital?" the student queries nervously.
Small and reserved, she's quite a contrast to her patient -- a burly, imposing middle-aged man, his body splattered with tattoos of birds of prey and firearms. He folds his arms tightly across his chest, and a large cross sparkles on his neck chain.
"It's when I tried to commit suicide on the bridge," he responds agitatedly.
There is a long, awkward pause. . .
Readers can link to the Pulse website to post comments, read archived issues and learn how to submit their own stories. Participation is free.
"I'd like readers to come to think about Pulse as their own, a place where they can speak from personal experience and from the heart. A place where generous listening leads to understanding and the inspiration to advocate for change," said Dr. Paul Gross, editor in chief.
Perhaps members of Congress should spend some time with Pulse while they ponder healthcare reform.
-- Shari Roan
Photo credit: Pulse -- Voices From the Heart of Medicine