Sunday, January 25, 2009

spirit catches you session

My big event planning responsibilities are now over until next winter.

Every year, we require the medical students to read The Spirit Catches You, and You Fall Down, and write an essay about some of the themes that come up in the book. These usually involve the clear breakdown in cross-cultural understanding, and how these breakdowns lead to negative health outcomes.

In addition to this, Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp, the central pediatricians in the book, come down from Oregon to talk with the class about their experiences at the time and now. It's a fantastic example of self-reflective practice; they are incredibly honest about their role, and always manage to communicate a nuanced view of the practice of medicine. Afterwards, we have a small reception where the students get to talk with them further.

Each time they talk to the students, it gives me hope that there can be an eventual cultural change in medicine that allows physicians to admit to mistakes, ask for help, and ultimately, lead to better patient care.

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