This Cancer Surgeon Is Using Poetry To Teach Medical Students How To Better Understand And Connect With Their Future Patients On A Personal Level

goodluz - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Good doctors are not made overnight. Behind every successful doctor lies years of schooling and training to hone the skills that are necessary to transform a medical student into a seasoned professional.

The process of becoming a doctor includes practices like anatomical dissections in the classroom and hands-on clinical rotations at hospitals.

However, one cancer surgeon has incorporated a rather unconventional method into his lessons that he hopes will stick with his students. João Luís Barreto Guimarães teaches a course on the fundamentals of modern poetry at Porto University in Portugal.

The aim of the new course is to help students connect with their future patients on a personal level, and he believes that poetry has the power to do that.

Today, many aspects of our healthcare culture are transaction-dependent. Often, patients aren’t viewed as people. Instead, they are seen as medical cases that need to be solved. So, it has become more important than ever for doctors to practice relationship-based care.

“For that reason, I get them to look at poems that talk about empathy, compassion, solidarity, and other similar humanistic values that doctors should strive for when they are in front of a patient,” Guimarães said.

Guimarães is actually a graduate of the university’s medical department himself. The 56-year-old breast cancer surgeon has been performing operations for over 30 years. When he’s not in the operating theater saving lives, he’s writing poems at home.

He is the author of 10 published collections. In 2022, he won Portugal’s Pessoa prize for distinguishing himself as a notable figure in the arts.

His course at the university covers basic elements of poetry, such as rhyme, tone, meter, stanza, scheme, and sound. The reading list includes poems that can be linked to medicine from authors with a background in healthcare.

goodluz – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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