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“What's Important to You?”: The Use of Narratives To Promote Self-Reflection and To Understand the Experiences of Medical Residents

Donald W. Brady, MD; Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD; and William T. Branch Jr., MD
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From Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30303

Acknowledgments: The authors greatly appreciate the participation of all the internal medicine-primary care residents at Emory University and their continued efforts to become self-reflective, compassionate physicians.

Requests for Single Reprints: Donald W. Brady, MD, 69 Butler Street SE, Atlanta, GA 30303; e-mail, dbrady@emory.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Brady and Branch: 69 Butler Street, SE, Atlanta, GA 30303.

Dr. Corbie-Smith: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Medical School, Wing D, CB#7240, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(3):220-223. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-137-3-200208060-00025
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Too often we hear housestaff speak of residency training as a “test of survival”—getting through the next 3 years so that they may get on with their “real” careers. However, we as faculty physicians know that these years of training are not lived in a vacuum but are inextricably interwoven into the fabric of residents' personal and professional lives. Their experiences—both the highs and the lows—will profoundly influence them as future physicians. For example, when a resident attends to a patient who is dying, how he or she processes that experience will bear markedly on how that resident will react to similar situations once in practice. Yet, too little is known about the residency years.

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