Embracing Uncertainty: Connecting Creativity and Care in Medicine

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Embracing Uncertainty: Connecting Creativity and Care in Medicine

May 31, 2023

Embracing Uncertainty: Connecting Creativity and Care in Medicine

Recently I read Tornado of Life: A Doctor’s Journey Through Constraints and Creativity in the ER by Jay Baruch, MD. It’s a collection of linked essays, so you can dip into the book in small, snatched moments without losing momentum. If you need an introduction to the always challenging, sometimes messy, but ultimately humanizing work that clinicians do at the acute end of care, this is a great start. 

Jay is a physician and writer who explores how creativity in medicine supports empathy, the cornerstone of clinical care. He is a practicing emergency room physician, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, and the author of two award-winning short fiction collections.

In his latest book, Jay interrogates the messy spaces of clinical practice and the art of caring for patients. Today we are talking about connections between writing, healing, and clinical care. We discussed Jay’s experience of writing the book, the experiences that led to writing the book, and the ways that writing can help us figure out who we are and what we think and feel.

Alan Bleakley, Emeritus Professor of Medical Education and Medical Humanities at the University of Plymouth calls Tornado of Life the best medical memoir he’s read. I can only agree and encourage you to read the book, too. 

Why? Because it’ll expand your concept of the healthcare team to include “the regular players already there, humanity scholars, writers, artists, and designers.” 

And it’ll expand your idea of what CME can do too. 

Baruch J. Tornado of Life: A Doctor’s Journey through Constraints and Creativity in the ER. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 2022.   
Baruch J, Springs S, Poterack A, Ganz Blythe S. What Cy Twombly’s Art Can Teach Us About Patients’ Stories. AMA J Ethics. 2020;22(5):E430-436.
Baruch J. Doctors as Makers. Acad Med. 2017;92(1): 40-44.   
Deavere Smith A. Talk to Me. Travels in Media and Politics. Anchor. 2001. 
Scarry E. The Body in Pain. Oxford: OUP, 1987.
Schulz K. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error. Harper Collins. 2011. 

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