McGovern Center faculty and students present at Health Humanities Consortium

By Angela Gomez, McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics
March 20, 2023

The Health Humanities Consortium held its annual meeting from March 16-19, 2023, at Case Western Reserve University’s Health Education Campus in Cleveland, OH.

Alongside plenary lectures and various papers, panels, and roundtables, the McGovern Center was represented in two presentations.

  • Renee Flores, MD, MHSA, FACP, EdD, AGSF, and Mary Horton, PhD, gave a flash presentation with McGovern Medical Students Catherine Bryant and Jason Burnett entitled, “Effects of Narrative Storytelling on Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) Older Adults.”

    Description: Older adults living in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) experience unique circumstances such as relocation into assisted living, loss of social networks, decreased mobility, widowhood, and retirement from employment that impact their physical and emotional well-being. This project adopts the principles of narrative medicine to use storytelling as an intervention in CCRC older adult care. It provides health profession students with a unique opportunity to understand aging. Engaging in storytelling exercises is an enjoyable community-building exercise with potential benefits for residents’ cognition, loneliness, depression, and mental health.

    Residents of a CCRC were recruited to meet weekly for a one-hour group narrative activity. Residents recounted stories of their lives, followed by discussion and questions. Audio of the exchanges was recorded. This project reached 41 residents over ten weeks. Baseline and quantitative assessment tools were used to identify measurable changes.

    Narrative storytelling is an engaging exercise that can be utilized as an enjoyable and beneficial intervention in CCRC older adult care. Transcripts of the shared stories reveal moments of individual reflection, cognitive stimulation, interpersonal connections, cultural appreciation, spiritual awareness, memory recall, and dynamic learning. In addition, incorporating clinical student volunteers provides invaluable training for the next generation of healthcare providers who will better understand aging, improve their communication and service to older patients, and appreciate the patient as a person within their life story.

  • Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration and McGovern Medical Students Isabela Bumanlag and Megan Jiao presented a paper about “Developing an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Health Curriculum for Medical Students in the COVID-19 Era.”Description:
    The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated preexisting health inequities, particularly pertaining to race and socioeconomic status. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) health continues to be overlooked in medical school curricula despite recognition of racism as a public health threat by the American Medical Association and the dramatic rise in anti-AAPI violence and xenophobia attributed to the pandemic. To address the dearth of AAPI health education, we developed and implemented a student-run elective at a large medical school in Houston, Texas, one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

    The elective primarily targeted preclinical students to engage them in productive conversations on contemporary AAPI health-related issues early in medical school. Sessions consisted of lectures, panels, and workshops addressing AAPI health disparities, advocacy, identity, and cultural practices. We recruited lecturers from our own institution and beyond to provide expertise from the perspective of practicing physicians, researchers, and policy advocates. Additionally, we collaborated widely with minority student organizations as well as diversity and inclusion administration for effective outreach and intergroup allyship.

    Based on course evaluations, student reception to the elective was overwhelmingly positive. The elective is currently in a new iteration for this academic year under a new cohort of student leaders, with plans of renewing the course annually. Given the success of the elective, our curriculum can offer a blueprint for other institutions to adapt to their respective contexts and continue spreading awareness on AAPI health issues, ultimately equipping future physicians to better address them at the national level.