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Monday, 1 June 2015

A turn for the verse: poetry in medical education

Giskin Day spoke on poetry in medical education during the 6th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine held in London on 22nd May 2015.  

 In her talk, she described initiatives in her own teaching for enhancing reflection and resilience – two qualities that are ‘trending’ in medical education. She also put the case for a third ‘R’: resonance. 

Listen to the talk by Giskin Day on poetry in medical education

Giskin Day said: "Medical education is well known for having a very crowded, fact-driven
Giskin Day
curriculum. Making space for the humanities, including poetry, often is an uphill struggle. Even so, medical schools around the world are realising that reading and writing poetry can develop important skills".

She added "Where reflection requires the distancing mechanism of a mirror, and resilience requires a degree of emotional hardening, resonance unites the rational and emotional in a state of responsive consonance. As a clinical skill, we need to insist on the importance of understanding and developing aurality alongside medicine’s traditional ocular-centricism. 
It is the attentive, empathic listener who establishes resonance with his or her patients. But resonance is also about setting other strings aquiver. Poetry challenges detachment and unites reason, memory and imagination. This allows us to make a strong case for its inclusion in medical education as an intellectual, creative and practical pursuit."

Giskin Day trained as a botanist in South Africa before falling in love with a British species and moving to London. After five years at the Science Museum she moved next door to Imperial College London. She coordinates some 30 College-wide courses in the humanities and teaches science communication and medical humanities. Giskin is an unofficial ambassador for the humanities in the Medical School and frequently is called upon to suggest resuscitation techniques for lifeless teaching workshops. 

She completed an MSc in Science Communication and an MA in Literature and Medicine from King's College, and might soon embark on a PhD on the rhetoric of gratitude in healthcare. She is possibly the only person to have themed her application for senior fellowship of the Higher Education Academy around medical poetry. Imperial is awarding her a President’s medal for outstanding contribution to teaching excellence.

The Symposium was held to mark the announcement of the winners of the 2015 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

The Hippocrates Prize is an annual award with a closing date of 31st January 2016 for the 2016 Hippocrates Prize. 

See more about entering for the 2016 Hippocrates Prize.

With a 1st prize of £5000 for the winning poem in the Open International category of

£5,000, £5000 for the 1st Prize in the NHS category, and £500 for the Young Poets Award the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its first 5 years, the Hippocrates Prize has attracted over 6000 entries from 61 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and Finland to Australasia.  

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