Thursday, April 16, 2015
Sinclair Conference Center
444 W. Third St.
Dayton, Ohio 45402
(Directions | Map)

Seventh Annual Medical-Spirituality Conference:
“Being Witness to Vulnerability Through Storytelling…
Exploring the Narrative Potentiality of Healthcare”

Humans are innate storytellers. We share our stories as a means of making sense of others and ourselves. Yet more than the telling of tales, narratives are profoundly steeped in personal, cultural and institutional values and beliefs. The narratives we share speak to our lived and living experience across these various terrains. In the clinic, narratives are increasingly revered for their role as therapeutic devices; stories speak to illness in ways that move us beyond the physical mechanics of understanding bodies, illness and care. Understanding the role of stories in health and healing is a critical component of enhancing patient-centered care and reducing physician burnout. It is in learning how to listen through the stories we both tell and interpret that physicians and patients alike can find a means of navigating the complex challenges in our contemporary health care systems.

Increasingly, medical professionals have been called to practice more efficient, effective care in less time, often leaving both physicians and patients depleted and unsatisfied. Narrative medicine involves the practice of attending to stories of illness in ways that engage practitioners and patients in compassionate, therapeutic care. The process is grounded in deep listening and reflection. Stories that emerge in the midst of illness and associated chaos provide extraordinary opportunities for us all to communicate in ways that promote more open, honest communication and trust. In learning to listen with intention and reflect with purpose, patient narratives can expand an ability to understand illness, others, and ourselves in ways that advance our ability to care for each other.

In this conference we will address the role of narrative in developing skills to assist providers in moving from an emphasis on detached concern to one of engaged concern and care. Engaged concern makes way for patients and providers to advance relationships that promote deeper empathy as well as greater personal and professional reflection and increased ethic of care. Workshops based on narrative theories assist participants in developing skills that will enhance resiliency, reduce practitioner burn out and strengthen communication between physicians and patients.

Featured Presenter: Lynn M. Harter, Ph.D.

Lynn M. Harter, Ph.D.Lynn M. Harter, Ph.D.

Lynn M. Harter, Ph.D., is Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. Guided by narrative and feminist sensibilities, her scholarly agenda focuses on the communicative construction of possibility as individuals and groups organize for survival and social change amidst embodied differences.

Her research encompasses a range of issues, including pediatric cancer care, disability-related concerns, the organizing of health care for underserved populations, poverty and homelessness. The various strands of her program of research are connected by a primary concern: how symbolic, material and corporeal resources foster resiliency among individuals facing vulnerable and difficult life circumstances.

She coproduced the award-winning PBS documentary “The Art of the Possible,” which chronicles the journeys of five families living with a member’s cancer, its treatment and what remains in the aftermath. She is author of Imagining New Normals: A Narrative Framework for Health Communication, has published more than 75 journal articles and book chapters and edited three award-winning scholarly books. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband, Scott, daughter, Emma Grace, and basset hounds, Ned and Cleo.