Is your doctor a heartless automaton who dispenses care soley at the whim of big pharmaceutical companies? If so, he or she is probably not a poet.

By Harriet Staff

According to The Wall Street Journal, medical schools across the country are putting their students through arts and writing classes, in an attempt to create more empathetic physicians. The idea is that by expressing themselves, by, say, writing poetry, the students will become more in tune with their own feelings, and thus be better able to listen to the feelings of patients:

The programs aim to teach students "right-brain" insights and skills they won't learn dissecting cadavers or studying pathology slides. Schools hope the programs help to turn out a new generation of physicians better able to listen attentively to patients, show emotion and provide sensitive personal care.

As evidence of the success of such programs, the paper interviews Dane Jacobson, a student at the University of Iowa:

"I think if you write a lot of reflective pieces or emotionally charged pieces you do become more in tune with other people," Mr. Jacobson says. "When I wrote a reflection on a patient I didn't really like, putting it down on paper made me start to see things from their perspective."

Originally Published: February 1st, 2011