My First Attempt at Creative Writing as a Physician
As I became president of the Medical Society, one of the tasks I found most daunting was writing these articles. I, in no way, consider myself a writer. It can be difficult choosing a topic, and then there is the challenge of composing it. I was fortunate enough to participate in an abbreviated writing workshop in March at the Medical Society. The publications committee graciously included the BCMS executive committee in their monthly meeting. The workshop was conducted by two amazing Fourth Year medical students from UT-Health. It was entitled "6:55," and it was both enlightening and empowering. This type of workshop was described in more detail in the March edition of San Antonio Medicine.
During the workshop, we first discussed the process of reflection and were given examples. We were given five minutes to write 6- word stories. We then were given fifteen minutes to write at least one 55- word story. After that we shared and discussed our work. UT-Health has incorporated this program into the medical school curriculum for students, residents and faculty.
Below, I share with you a few of my "6" word stories and "55" word stories from that workshop, as well as some that I have done since then.
Theme- physician burnout
6 word stories:
"Early mornings, long days, late nights."
"Little sleep, no lunch, much work."
"Charts, charts, charts. Meetings, meetings, meetings."
"Day "off"— try to catch up."
"Long days. No time to play."
55 word stories:
"I am up before dawn — ready to go save the world again. To the hospital I go to see newborn babies — they are so full of life. The laughs and cries of my patients gets me through the day. Then the burden of the charts begins to wear on me late into the night."
"I am fortunate to have a day "off." The "to do" list is longer than the hours in the day. How do I begin to tackle this? Thoughtfully, I go down the list, checking off each completed task — receiving great satisfaction when the list gets shorter. Discouraged when I cannot complete it all that day."
The Publications committee is working to plan a Writers' Workshop for Physicians this Fall. I highly encourage anyone interested to participate. Although I was a reluctant participant at the "6:55" workshop in March, I found it very worthwhile. If writing is not "your thing," there has to be something creative that you are passionate about. It could be photography, painting or drawing, playing and/or composing music, gardening, baking/cooking — just to name a few. Whatever it is, it is important to carve time out of your busy schedule and "just do it!" I think you will find that you are a happier and more productive individual if you do.
Leah Jacobson, MD, is the 2017 president of the Bexar County Medical Society.