Poetry, Thy Name is Physician

I found this pretty amazing.  There's a poet lurking in almost every physician.

According to newswise.com, future physician Paul Rocco Allegra had this to say after encountering death in the anatomy lab, where he and his classmates dissected cadavers.

Metal gurney against preserved flesh,
maybe this isn’t the first time we’ve met …

And this, in imagining fleeting moments when, in life, the person whose corpse lies before him, might have crossed paths with him. 

I hesitate to look at your face,
because maybe, just maybe,
you’ve looked at mine.

The Web site quotes Allegra, who says, “You see painted fingernails, or freckles or hair,” haunting signs that this preserved mass of organic material was once a person – a human being like him. “You need to stop and reflect and analyze, and poetry does that.”
Writes another student, 

My pronunciations are shameful.
Erythematous. Blah. My cheeks burn.
Will patients call me doctor if I can’t speak?

“This poem is an exercise in personal therapy for me,” says med student Katharine Doyle in the article. “When I shared it with my classmates, they identified with it, because if you struggle to pronounce the name of the disease, it discounts your knowledge. You want to instill confidence in your patients.”
So should we expect our doctors to start quoting Keats at us?  
The students entered a poetry contest called Cry of My Heart.  “There is a pressure to be tough and not to reveal emotion,” says Judy Rowe Michaels, one of the contest’s judges and a poet-in-the-schools for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. “I think that creates a very stressful situation. Poetry tends to be a place to explore feelings and address such emotions as grief and fear.”
She notes that poetry allows med students to expose a vulnerability they need to hide in order to be seen as tough, competent doctors.
It also can sharpen a physician’s healing skills, says Zeynep Uzumcu, another medical student who wrote a poem that was honored. “It is so important to be connected to the humanities as a physician,” explains Uzumcu, who was an undergraduate English major at Rutgers and has written poetry for years. “Patients come with problems that are not just physical. Being able to recognize the source of those problems helps you to be a better doctor.”



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