Touching moments shared at Story Beat LIVE!

On July 11 we wrapped up our Northwest Narrative Medicine Series with Story Beat LIVE—an evening of intimate storytelling and careful listening. Our group was made up of a variety of individuals from all different walks of life. We were joined by doctors, patients, students, and writers—all of us brought together by the shared experience of how illness and medicine have touched our lives.

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Stacy Brewster kicked off the evening with a guided writing prompt to open up the space and break down the barriers between this brave group of strangers. The room grew silent as everyone started free-writing on the following prompts:

“Between you and me…”

“The first thing I felt was…”

What started off as the same opening fragments branched off in different directions as we chased tangential thoughts and wrote without reservations. We went around and shared our unpolished, messy thoughts, which helped to ease the nerves of sharing deeply personal work later on.

After free-write sharing, participants were invited to read from a piece of writing brought from home. We heard painful illness narratives that were balanced by humor and wit, poems that caught our breath and brought some to tears, and snapshots of distant lives that reminded us that everyone has a story.

Storytellers were given the option to either receive or opt-out of feedback after reading. Everyone who read chose to receive feedback, which led to interesting and meaningful discussions about the pieces shared as well as the unique and shared experiences of illness and pain.

At one point, someone brought up a video made by the Cleveland Clinic called Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care, which shows the silent thoughts and lives of people passing through a hospital.

Story Beat LIVE, like the Cleveland Clinic video, is an exercise in empathy. It is an opportunity to peek into someone’s life and understand the challenges you may not be able to see by just looking. Editor Trent T Gilliss of
On Being puts it nicely: “When we relate to those around us by understanding their back stories and their circumstances, we improve the way we work, the way we live, the way we take care of one another, the way we relate going forward.”

Thank you to everyone who showed up and participated. Your brave vulnerability is deeply appreciated and respected. Thanks for sharing.

If you have a piece you would like to share, please consider submitting to our Story Beat LIVE event during this year’s NWNM conference on October 21. More details can be found on our website.

2017 Conference Registration Now Open!

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We are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for the 2nd Annual Narrative Medicine Conference in Portland, Oregon on October 20-22, 2017. Sponsoring for this event is provided by The Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative and The OHSU School of Medicine. Register before September 15th to receive the early bird pricing.

What can you expect? Spend three days learning side-by-side with healthcare professionals, students, scholars, social workers, patients, caregivers and patient advocates. Build concrete skills to develop narrative competence – the ability to absorb, interpret and be moved to action by the story of illness.

INTERPROFESSIONAL

Throughout the conference, participants will be exposed to new perspectives and challenged by compelling stories, often very different from one’s own. Foundational narrative workshops ground participants in the fundamentals of narrative medicine. Through self-selected topical workshops, participants will explore plays, poems and even clay pots as portals to understanding illness. By hearing from and working closely with content experts, and exploring unfamiliar topics and utilizing many different mediums of expression, participants will build their narrative competence and develop new skills they can incorporate into their own work.

ENGAGING

Hear inspiring, dramatic stories of life-changing challenges from keynote speakers and instructors that will forever change how you understand the patient experience. Keynote speaker Bryce Olson, Intel’s Global Marketing Director for Health and Life Sciences, was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer at the age of 45. Having his tumors sequenced at OHSU was the first step toward a passion for precision medicine and his eventual cancer remission. Since then, he’s found his voice using his love for music to raise awareness for precision medicine with his F.A.C.T.S. (Fighting Advanced Cancer Through Song) movement.

BUILDING BRIDGES

Spend three days reveling in how narrative medicine can be a bridge between caregivers and those facing illness. Hear unforgettable stories from healthcare workers, patients, caregivers and artists. Watch a troupe with Parkinson’s Disease express themselves through dance. Spend Saturday night at Story Beat LIVE—an enjoyable evening of storytelling and spontaneous audience participation.

Check out the complete 2017 Conference Program and then register here. We’ll see you in Portland in October!