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Interviews and personal stories: A humanities approach in pharmaceutical education

Janine Nass, Thomas Efferth, Anita Wohlmann

Abstract

Background: Patients usually voice their problems and concerns by telling stories, as research in medical humanities has shown. Narrative skills are therefore an important competency for pharmacists who work closely with patients.

Objective: This article describes and evaluates an interdisciplinary teaching project that encouraged pharmaceutical students to become aware of the narrative quality of the pharmacist-patient interaction, and to provide students with tools and concepts from the humanities to understand.

Method: Following ethical approval, students conducted interviews with patients about their experiences with medication. Students were introduced to methods from literature studies and cultural anthropology to help them interpret the stories they had gathered and to evaluate the interpersonal communications in which they had participated. The students wrote a reflective report and participated in two workshops (an analysis workshop and a poster presentation). For the project’s assessment, the authors evaluated the students’ reflective reports and their anonymous written feedback after the workshops.

Results: From the students’ point of view, the teaching project improved their questioning techniques and gave them a deeper insight into, and sensibility for patients’ beliefs about medication and their role as pharmacists.

Conclusion: The teaching project suggests that interdisciplinary methods and approaches in pharmacy education can offer a space for students to reflect on their professional roles as pharmacists, the centrality of storytelling for patients and the importance of language.


Keywords

Counselling; Medical Humanities; Interviewing; Patients’ Experiences; Self-Reflection


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