Social Medicine: February 2019

Social medicine: the study of the complex interplay of social, genetic and environmental factors and their collective impacts on health, disease and the practice of medicine. We dedicate our February 2019 theme issue of in-House to exploring health disparities, social justice, and the social determinants of health in modern medicine.

Rebecca E MacDonell-Yilmaz, MD, MPH, pediatric hematology & oncology fellow at Brown University

Reproductive Rights of Incarcerated Women
Saba Malik, MD, MPH, family medicine resident at Harbor UCLA Medical Center

Health Care Is Not a Safe Space: A List of Experiences
Phyllis Ying, MD, family medicine resident in the Pacific Northwest

When a Diagnosis Hurts Rather than Helps: A Patient’s Struggle With Psychiatric Stigma
Gali Hashmonay, MD, psychiatry resident at SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Another Day, Another Code
Divya Shankar, MD, internal medicine resident at Boston University School of Medicine

A Call to My Fellow Residents in the Era of the Opioid Epidemic
Jessica Hane, MD, internal medicine-pediatrics resident at University of Minnesota Medical School

in-House Readers’ Choice Award

Jessica Hane, MD

Jessica Hane is a third-year internal medicine and pediatrics resident at the University of Minnesota. After studying biology and Spanish at Creighton University, she spent a year in Ecuador as a Fulbright Scholar. She completed medical school at the University of Iowa where she was involved in a student-run mobile clinic and the Global Medicine Society. Her interests include health equity, the intersection of homelessness and health, global health and medical education. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and photography. She can be found on Twitter @jhanemd.

I love art and medicine for the same reason — both are fundamentally about the human experience. No textbook can explain grief like Marie Howe’s What the Living Do. The words of Rana Awdish, author of In Shock, brought meaning and purpose to my 80-hour work weeks in the intensive care unit. When my schedule allows, I participate in the Storytelling Collaborative. It is a space for physicians to write, reflect, and tell stories. I often hear people, particularly those in science, claim not to be creative. Whether you journal in private, doodle during biochemistry, or take photos on your iPhone, you are creating. I believe that we all need a creative outlet to make sense of our experiences in medicine.

When I put pen to paper, if I’m lucky, my fleeting ideas take shape into a narrative that tells me something about myself or the world around me. Writing helps me process the complexities of medicine. Until recently, I mostly journaled privately and wrote letters to loved ones. The more I share my writing, the more I find people who care about the same things. This connection is both validating and inspiring; it is a reminder that we are all in this together. As physicians, our most sacred responsibility is to bear witness to our patient’s story. We are then charged with communicating these stories to other providers, in the medical chart, and in some cases, to the world. We listen, we learn, we reflect, and hopefully, each story makes us a better healer.