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Purpose: We used a narrative technique with volunteer medical students immersed in early clinical experiences in order to 1) offer students a pathway to self-reflection, and 2) offer program directors insight into issues that arise for students. Methodology: Our medical students between their first and second years spend nine summer weeks working in a clinical practice somewhere in the state. Self-selected students (9 in 2005, 22 in 2006), wrote reflectively once a week, via e-mail, to volunteer physician mentors on campus, sharing observations, feelings, and ideas. Mentors responded in kind to the content of these experiential writings. At the end of the summer, students gathered together to read from their work. Each student turned in one piece of writing to the program. Both students and mentors filled out evaluation forms that assessed the program. One program director identified themes in the students' narratives. Summary of Results: Students and mentors overwhelmingly reported that the narrative time was well spent. Students commented that this writing helped them to perceive their clinical work in a thoughtful way, become more observant and analytical, look for recurrent patterns, and respond better to patients. Mentors found the correspondence rewarding and felt refreshed by it. Themes emerging from student writing addressed life events and professional socialization. Most mentors volunteered to participate again. Conclusions: Program directors found the program to be feasible and useful for students and mentors, filling an unmeet needs for first year medical students to consider, question, and reflect about their early clinical experiences."""

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medical education, narrative writing, reflective writing


Presented at the November 2007 AAMC Annual Meeting, Washington DC