Values and Value in Healthcare Legislation

What if we were to re-envision our relationship to policy as statements of our values and beliefs? That’s what makes the GOP’s current proposals to repeal and replace the ACA so troubling.

IMG_20170627_154400724In today’s political climate, couple the word “policy” with “health,” and most people’s blood pressure starts rising. I’ve spent the last six months living somewhere in the middle of those two words, blood pressure spikes notwithstanding, as a research fellow at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. Instead of spending that precious time designing and testing ways to integrate literature into medical school curricula, residency programs, and hospital systems, I’ve been analyzing Republican proposals to repeal and/or replace President Barak Obama’s signature health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“the ACA”).

Continue reading “Values and Value in Healthcare Legislation”

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

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WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Democracy and Health Care

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On Thursday, June 22, 13 (male) GOP senators emerged from a back room to release a draft of their long-promised GOP “repeal and replace” scenario for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the ACA, aka “Obamacare”). The bill, which they dubbed the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” is the Senate’s version of the House-passed version of repeal and replace, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Continue reading “Democracy and Health Care”

All Those Creeping Women: Rethinking Postpartum Depression with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

 

In February 2016, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its recommendations for screening for depression to include pregnant and post-partum women. The move was significant, acknowledging the scope of a problem that’s rarely addressed by primary care physicians, obstetricians, and others who care for women during and after pregnancy. About one out of five women will experience depression or anxiety after giving birth. While postpartum depression usually lasts a few weeks or months, it may extend to the child’s preschool years or longer – with negative effects on parents, children, and others.

Continue reading “All Those Creeping Women: Rethinking Postpartum Depression with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper””

Literature and the Good Doctor: Bernard Lown’s The Lost Art of Healing

Bernard Lown first published his classic text, The Lost Art of Healing, in 1996. Part memoir, part “letter to a young doctor,” the book remains a must-read for physicians, patients, policymakers, and anyone else who is concerned with the evolution of health care today. Lown’s central tenet is that medicine has “lost its way” in its focus on the biomedical model of the body. He proposes that patient-physician dialogue is central to the practice of medicine and at least equally – if not more – important to healing as any scientific or technological intervention.

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Bernard Lown first published his classic text, The Lost Art of Healing, in 1996. Part memoir, part “letter to a young doctor,” the book remains a must-read for physicians, patients, policymakers, and anyone else who is concerned with the evolution of health care today. Lown’s central tenet is that medicine has “lost its way” in its focus on the biomedical model of the body. He proposes that patient-physician dialogue is central to the practice of medicine and at least equally – if not more – important to healing as any scientific or technological intervention.

Continue reading “Literature and the Good Doctor: Bernard Lown’s The Lost Art of Healing”

Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman”

On December 6, 2015, during the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, Aretha Franklin strode onto the stage, swept aside her full-length fur coat, sat down at the piano, and launched into a stunning performance of her 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Franklin, herself a 1994 Kennedy Center Honor recipient, sang to honor “Natural Woman’s”  co-writer, Carole King.

Continue reading “Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman””

Why Composing Health?

Welcome to Composing Health, a blog about literature and medicine — and whatever else comes up along the way. In this blog, I’ll be exploring the ways that the humanities in general – and literature in particular – can transform health care, health policy, and health. My basic premise is this: In a world in which health care is ever driven by advances in technology, it’s time to pause and ask how we can refocus medicine to ensure it is about human health in the broadest sense. I’m proposing that humanities scholars have tools that can help us to do just that, and that by using those tools, we can make better doctors, nurses, public health professionals, policymakers, health-care administrators, and patients.

I’m not the only one to suggest that the marriage of humanities and medicine is a potentially fruitful one. Medical humanities programs, which were nascent in the 1980s and 1990s, are growing by leaps and bounds. Today, most medical schools include a “medical humanities” or “health humanities” component. Some universities are granting degrees in medical humanities. At the same time, health-systems experts are working to create systems of patient-centered, safe, high-quality, high-value health care. These two movements are meeting each other in surprising and often productive ways.

Yet the burgeoning field of health humanities remains confined, for the most part, to those academic medical centers (most of which, by default, are in large urban areas). In this blog, I hope to reach beyond universities and medical schools and to create a space where anyone can use those humanities tools to achieve better health. That includes health-care providers, nurses, allied health professionals, public health professionals, policymakers, and others working in the field, in urban, rural, and frontier areas. It also includes people on the receiving end of health care.

I’m an English literature PhD, so my focus will be on literature and medicine. I’ll give you some hints about how you, too, can read literature like a professor — and how literature can help us to rethink our bodies. But the term “the humanities” encompasses many disciplines – English, film, cultural studies, gender studies, history, languages, philosophy, visual and performing arts, music, and much, much more. These are the disciplines that we use to ask fundamental questions about the human condition. It’s time for us to remember that medicine, likewise, is a study of the human condition — not only of the body.

Our bodies are “written” by the biological, cultural, environmental, and historical contexts in which we live. An astute clinician can read that body and understand the story behind it. To achieve health, each and every one of us, must understand how our bodies are shaped by our stories. The stories we live are writ large on our bodies.

I hope you’ll join me.