Physician and Ph.D. Graduate in Creative Writing and Literature from USC Dornsife Brings Narrative Medicine to USC > News > USC Dornsife

Pamela Schaff directs USC’s Master’s in Narrative Medicine program, which helps healthcare workers improve healing by focusing on patient stories. [1¼ min read]

Pamela Schaff, a physician and USC Dornsife alumnus, helps health workers understand their patients’ stories and improve treatment. (Photo: Courtesy of USC Keck School of Medicine.)

Rate your pain from 1 to 10.

Many people who have been to the doctor have been asked to do so. But, the field of narrative medicine argues that this momentary question can miss the point if it doesn’t include a background story.

This is the problem that narrative medicine hopes to solve. By focusing on patient stories, healthcare professionals can witness, absorb, make sense of, and act on the stories and traumas of others to enhance healing.

“When the field was founded, it was really to address some of the issues that I think patients and physicians continue to face,” said Pamela Schaff, who earned her doctorate in creative writing and literature in 2019 at the ‘USC Dornsife College. of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Schaff now directs the Narrative Medicine program at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

The program offers courses in literary studies, creative writing, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology—many of which are taught by USC Dornsife faculty and former faculty—through a medical lens.

Students in the Narrative Studies program — the second of its kind in the nation — include working professionals as well as medical students and other graduates from various fields such as anthropology. They learn more than just bedside manners, Schaff said.

“If our students can learn what to do with stories, for example through deep reading skills in a literature class, where students analyze the details of a text, we believe this translates to improved clinical care. for patients. »

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