Background: Narrative Medicine may mitigate physician burnout by increasing empathy and self-compassion, and by encouraging physicians to deeply connect with patient stories/experiences. However, Narrative Medicine has been difficult to implement on hectic inpatient teaching services that are often the most emotionally taxing for residents. Objective: To evaluate programmatic and learner outcomes of a novel narrative medicine curriculum implementation during inpatient medicine rotations for medical residents. Programmatic outcomes included implementation lessons. Learner outcomes included preliminary understanding of impact on feelings of burnout. Additionally, we developed a generalizable narrative medicine framework for program implementation across institutions. Methods: We developed and implemented a monthly 45-min Narrative Medicine workshop on Stanford’s busiest and emotionally-demanding inpatient rotation (medical oncology). Using the Physician Wellbeing Inventory (PWBI, range 1–7; 3–4 = high burnout risk; ≥4, high burnout), we anonymously assessed resident burnout during pre-implementation control year (2017–2018, weeks 1 and 4), and implementation year (2018–2019, weeks 1 and 4). We interviewed program directors and facilitators regarding curriculum implementation challenges/facilitators. Results: Residents highly rated the narrative medicine curriculum, and the residency program renewed the course for 3 additional years. We identified success factors for programmatic success including time neutrality, control of session, learning climate, building trust, staff partnership, and facilitators training. During control year, resident burnout was initially high (n = 16; mean PBWI = 3.0, SD: 1.1) and increased by the final week (n = 15; PBWI = 3.4, SD: 1.6). During implementation year, resident burnout was initially similar (n = 13; PBWI = 3.1, SD: 1.9) but did not rise as much by rotation end (n = 24; PBWI = 3.3, SD: 1.6). Implementation was underpowered to detect small effect sizes. Based on our our experience and literature review, we propose an educational competency framework potentially helpful to facilitate inpatient narrative medicine workshops, as a blueprint for other institutions. Conclusions: Inpatient Narrative Medicine is feasible to implement during a challenging inpatient rotation and may have important short-term effects in mitigating burnout rise, with more study needed. We share teaching tools and propose a competency framework which may be useful to support development of inpatient narrative medicine curricula across institutions.
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