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Beyond Reading: Pulse as a Pedagogical Tool

I have been connected to Pulse as a weekly reader and avid supporter since its inception ten years ago. In addition, as a medical educator, I consider Pulse to be a toolbox of pedagogical resources to help learners understand how stories, poems and visuals are additive to their education across the continuum of medical school, residency and continuing medical education.

There are three ways I apply Pulse in the learning environment. One is to share weekly stories, poems or visuals with colleagues who might be interested, based on the content or the author of a given piece, via a simple “forward” of the weekly Friday email and a suggestion that they consider signing up for Pulse.

My second use of Pulse is as a teaching tool in the Health Humanities curriculum. I select one of the published pieces, and we read it out loud as a group. Listening to the words is very powerful. The facilitator discusses the reading and its impact on the listeners, which usually leads to personal reflections about patient care. Then the students each write a brief narative reaction to an open-ended prompt prepared by the facilitator and constructed to support the content of the Pulse story. The students’ own writing helps them to internalize the piece’s message. The final step is the sharing of their own stories, which promotes reflective practice and leads to narrative competence. These sessions never fail and are great learning opportunity for students, residents and faculty.

My final use of Pulse as an educational tool is to develop other faculty members into users of narrative stories, poems and visuals as teaching tools. This includes helping them to identify learning objectives (LOs) in a selected submission and then to apply the LOs to specific teaching content. This form of pedagogy requires different skills than lectures and Powerpoints, and protected faculty development time is essential to assure success. The engagement of learners is clearly evident in this style of teaching, and faculty find it rewarding to see learners connect with the health humanities.

Enjoy all of these Pulse moments with your colleagues and learners, as I do. May we all see another ten years of success. 
Alice Fornari
Great Neck, New York


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