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Literature & Medicine: Humanities in V.A. Hospitals

Healing has as much to do with the soul as the body. How can the humanities support our healthcare system—and some of our most vulnerable patients, wounded veterans?

Our answer has been to begin to offer the Literature & Medicine program to VA hospitals in California. Through the Literature and Medicine program, we’re leveraging the power of the humanities in support of our healthcare providers and their patients.

This program has shown it can help improve the quality of patient care through having hospital workers engage in deep conversations about the circumstances that brought their patients into their care. Facilitated discussion about issues revealed by poetry, plays, personal narratives, and films uncover the realities of people’s lives as no x-ray can.

Since 2009, Cal Humanities has been working with VA hospitals—now in Fresno, Palo Alto, and Sacramento—to train staff and scholar-facilitators, and provide literature and ongoing technical assistance as well as stipends. Our involvement in Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care® is part of a national effort initiated by the Maine Humanities Council to improve health care through humanities approaches that increase the ability of caregivers to empathize with and better communicate with patients, family members, and peers.

Dr. Denise Henderson, program participant, works with veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. She shared with us how the Literature & Medicine program has impacted her practice.

Click HERE to read the interview with Dr. Henderson on our blog.

Your gift makes our work possible. Click HERE to support programs like this.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

— Henry David Thoreau

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