January 11, 2013
Better Doctors Write: Donors Bring Humanities in Medicine Course to School of Medicine
When School of Medicine-Columbia students focus on the writing process they become better doctors, say Dr. Dorothy Kendall, ’88, medicine, and her husband, Dr. Ed Kendall. Writing from a doctor’s viewpoint requires introspection while enhancing ethical awareness.
The benefits of written expression are why the Kendalls—both psychiatrists in the Midlands area—created the Humanities in Medicine endowment and resulting course for fourth-year medical students. Having served over the years as clinical assistant professors in the School of Medicine’s
Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science, they wanted to create an enriching experience for tomorrow's doctors.
“We wanted to start something that gives back to the School of Medicine by amplifying the mission of the institution,” said Dorothy, medical director of the William J. McCord Center in Orangeburg.
“Every medical case is an individual's unique story. You do get better medical care from a doctor who appreciates someone’s illness as a narrative,” said Ed Kendall, who credits SOM Dean Richard Hoppmann
for supporting the writing course.
Course Taught by English Department Chair
Following a brief hiatus, Department of English Chair and professor William Rivers
will teach Humanities in Medicine in spring 2013. Students will keep journals as they explore topics that range from explaining the seriousness of an illness to a patient, to thoughts as they deliver a baby for the first time.
Rivers taught a similar course at Auburn and has engaged in discussions on the topic with his son, William Evan Rivers, ’02, a South Carolina Honors College graduate and doctor. The younger Rivers is an assistant professor in Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico.
The Kendalls developed their interest in the course through conversations with two of Dorothy's former professors, Dr. Carolyn Matalene
, a now-retired English faculty member and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and the late Dr. Donald Saunders
, one of the founders of the School of Medicine.
“One of the keys to preventing physician burnout is to keep a balance in your life,” Dorothy said. "Having outlets that include a passion for writing, art, music, and the overall humanities helps keep doctors healthy."
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications