Creative writing workshops for medical education: learning from a pilot study with hospital staff
- 1School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge; Cambridge, UK
- 2Consultant Psychiatrist, Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, Bury St Edmunds, UK
- 3Head of Learning Resources, West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, UK
- Correspondence to: Mrs S Gull, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Cambridge Graduate Course Supervisor, West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 2QZ, UK;
A course in creative writing was designed as a possible tool in medical education. Twelve volunteers (six doctors and six non-medical staff) participated in seven workshops held weekly. Four aims were identified: to help put thoughts onto paper; to facilitate interpretation of narrative; to encourage expression of emotions related to illness and death, and to encourage creativity. The course was evaluated using participant observational analysis and two questionnaires. This paper discusses the outcomes in relation to these aims, but identifies additional issues raised by the development.
Only six of the 12 participants produced a final piece of written work, with lack of self discipline being cited as the chief reason. There was a strong tendency for self reflection in the group, which needed appropriate support. How creativity can be encouraged remains unclear. The value of multidisciplinary learning in this context was identified.
The value of creative writing for medical education remains difficult to measure, but the participants agreed unanimously that the course would be an enjoyable way of encouraging medical students in its stated aims.