The Yale Internal Medicine Residency Writers’ Workshop is an annual two-day intensive writing workshop for Yale residents in internal medicine and other specialties (including psychiatry, pediatrics, radiology, OB/GYN, surgery, and emergency medicine). Twelve participants learn the nuts and bolts of good writing, give each other feedback on their stories and essays, work on revisions, and take part in writing exercises. After the workshop, participants continue to work on revising their essays and stories with ongoing mentoring by Drs. Reisman and Sanders. Each January, the participants give a reading the Yale community, and the Department sponsors a Writing and Medicine Grand Rounds.
The Yale Department of Internal Medicine established the Writers' Workshop in 2003 to create an opportunity for residents to enhance their powers of observation and to share these observations with their colleagues. Our aims were to provide an outlet for the creative energy among our housestaff, to increase empathy, and to help residents reflect on their experience through learning the craft of writing. We felt that this focus had the most potential to help our residents appreciate the richness of the patients' stories and the power of those stories to transform the doctor-patient relationship. The Workshop also provided an exceptional opportunity to improve writing skills, whether in fiction or non-fiction writing. Dr. Abraham Verghese designed and led the first workshop.
Anna Reisman and Lisa Sanders lead the workshop. Dr. Reisman is Associate Professor in the Yale Department of Internal Medicine. She is a general internist and sees patients at VA Connecticut Healthcare System. She co-edited Telephone Medicine: A Guide for the Practicing Physician (ACP, 2002). Her writing credits include The New York Times, Slate, Discover Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Health Affairs, and Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Lisa Sanders joined the Writers’ Workshop faculty in 2009. Dr. Sanders is Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine. She writes the Diagnosis column for the New York Times Magazine and was the technical advisor to the popular television show, House, M.D. She is the author of Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis, a New York Times Book Review bestseller.
Our workshop advisor until 2009 was Dr. Asghar Rastegar, Professor of Medicine, Director of the International Health Program, and is currently Dr. Stephen Huot, Professor of Medicine, Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program Director and Associate Chair, Education and Academic Affairs.