Enhancing Health Education with Collaborative Narratives

Enhancing Health Education with Collaborative Narratives

Jennifer Lynne Bird, Eric T. Wanner
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch058
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This chapter explains the lessons learned when an English professor and a physical therapist decided to work together. Patients in a clinic and students in a classroom share the need for positive role models to teach them effective strategies to enhance their learning. The official research journey focuses on the connections among writing, positive outlook, and healing. The unofficial journey focuses on the lessons learned from the authors teaching each other about their fields of expertise. They encourage readers to accomplish two tasks. First, think about how to get out of your personal comfort zone and change your outlook about the amount of stress in your life. Second, think about how to get out of your professional comfort zone and change your outlook about working with colleagues in other disciplines. By sharing their experiences, the authors provide ideas on how to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in school and community.
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Only The Beginning

Marilyn Kepler Bird loved her life. She felt it was her calling in life to be the caretaker of others. She changed the lives of her husband, daughter, parents, sister, niece, and even people she barely knew, such as the cashiers at the local Kroger store, with her kindness. She worried about everyone else before she worried about herself. She shared everything with her family except a notebook of her thoughts about her health they found too late to help her. She kept her stress level to herself. She died of a carotid artery aneurism. Jen is her daughter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Synergistic Collaboration: Adapted from the dictionary definition of “synergistic,” this process describes people that work together and accomplish more than they could alone. When people of different disciplines work together toward a common goal, they achieve excellence and make a difference.

Neck Pain Journal: Jen created a journal of how her neck was feeling and what she was doing when her neck felt pain. Eric read the journal and diagnosed what Jen needed to do to make her neck feel better.

Wanner-Bird Healing Survey for Pain Recovery: An original survey designed by Dr. Eric Wanner and Dr. Jennifer Bird. It features a combination of numerical subjective questions where patients are asked to respond to statements by circling a number from 1-5 and written subjective questions that evaluates patients on a rubric with a score of 1, 3, or 5 incorporating the technical and artistic dimensions of writing.

Narrative Medicine: The field of medicine, used by programs such as the one Rita Charon founded at Columbia University, which encourages medical practitioners to use theories from the fields of literature and composition to enhance comprehension of the stories patients share.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: This describes the teamwork that occurs when colleagues from different disciplines work together in order to learn about each other’s field of expertise. As a result of interdisciplinary collaboration, opportunities are created that may not have been discovered if the collaboration had not taken place.

Behavior Changes: Making a conscious effort to make lifestyle changes. Medical doctor Hilary Tindle researched patient outlook in medicine; it is true that some people make negative choices to deal with stress, such as the numbing strategies Brene Brown researched, while other people make positive choices to deal with stress, such as following the exercise recommendations suggested by experts at the American College of Sports Medicine. Ultimately the choice of which behavior changes to implement in order to cope with stress belongs to each individual.

Journal Writing: The process of a person responding to prompts and writing about his or her thoughts and feelings. While journal writing is typically associated with writing classrooms, writing teachers including Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, and Donald Murray advocate that journal writing can be done by anyone, anywhere. Students in an English classroom, patients in a physical therapy clinic, and readers of this chapter in their living rooms can pick up pen, paper, and just write.

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