Pre-conference Workshops

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In October 2018 the Carver College of Medicine will again sponsor several long-format workshops. These opportunities are oriented toward building skills in writing and general enjoyment of life.

Audio Description: The M.D. as Careful Observer

October 23, 2018, 09:00 AM  04:00 PM

Day-long pre-conference workshop.  

Joel Snyder, PhD
Audio Description Associates, LLC and the American Council of the Blind

“You can see a lot Just by lookin’.” – Yogi Berra

At this interactive, multi-media session, participants will experience how Audio Description makes visual images accessible for people who are blind or have low vision—the visual is made verbal. As careful observers, describers use words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative to convey the visual image that is not fully accessible to a significant segment of the population and not fully realized by the rest of us—people who see but who may not observe.

Close examination / observation skills are critical to the comprehension and development of audio description—and, in my view, to the practice of effective medicine. When I train audio describers, I often refer to the finely honed skills of Joseph Bell, M.D.—he was a mentor to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, M.D., creator, of course, of Sherlock Holmes, patterned after Dr. Bell. See:

 How creative and reflective writing changed my life (and how it can for you too). Writing for non-writers

October 23-24, 2018, 09:00 AM  04:00 PM

2-day workshop Participants should be present both days.  

Hilton Koppe MFM
Family Medicine Practitioner

I hadn’t written a poem since the 4th grade when Miss Black made us all write a poem about our summer vacation. Until one of my patients (not just any old patient, a special patient, a patient who I had gone the extra mile for) sent me a poem reflecting on the care I had offered her during a long illness. To say that the poem was less than complementary was an understatement. As I read the poem, I was overcome with emotions. None of them were positive. At that moment, I had a thought that changed my life. I thought, “Well, if it was good enough for her to write a poem about me, then maybe I could write a poem about her.” That immature childish response and the subsequent pathetic attempt to pen a poem set me on a course leading me irrevocably from small town Australian family practice to Iowa’s Examined Life Conference (with a few interesting detours along the way).

In this fun and interactive two-day workshop, there will be an opportunity for non-writers (like me) to explore the medium. Simple forms of writing will be demonstrated, and participants will write a number of brilliant pieces across a range of styles. Competence in rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and all that fancy literary stuff is definitely not required (they are welcome but strictly optional). This workshop will be of particular interest to health practitioners interested in exploring how creative writing can help them to gain a better understanding of what it means to do the important work they do. The workshop has been designed to reduce professional isolation, burnout and compassion fatigue. Please bring along humility, a sense of curiosity and a pen. Self-importance and literary snobbery should be left at home.

Objectives: Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • use structured writing exercises to reflect on what it means to be a health practitioner;
  • develop skills in using a variety creative writing styles;
  • reignite previously lost passions for creativity;
  • marvel at the brilliance of their colleagues;
  • share some of their creative brilliance with colleagues, if they choose to;
  • learn skills in the use of creativity in education;
  • experience being with colleagues in a way totally different from other education events.

Bearing Witness – A Workshop for Prose Writers

October 24, 2018, 09:00 AM  04:00 PM TBD

Day-long pre-conference workshop.  

Carol Scott-Conner MD PhD
University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

The desire to bear witness is a powerful motivation for writing prose – whether nonfiction or fiction. As care providers, we bear witness to the suffering and bravery of others. As human beings, we ourselves experience the ills of the flesh. Our lives are filled with small but revealing moments that can serve as the genesis for creative writing. This workshop will explore the steps involved in transforming a motivating incident into publishable prose, with particular reference to the medical environment.

During the first half of the day, we will critically analyze relevant parts of several published pieces. We will review techniques for developing tension, achieving distance, providing resolution, and protecting (where applicable) confidentiality. We’ll explore how writing prompts can be used to trigger the creative process. We will also significant choices: fiction or non-fiction? Intended audience? Where to publish?

Bring an idea – some large or small incident – of your own. During the second half of the day you will have time to begin developing your idea into a prose piece, by applying some of the concepts we’ve discussed. You’ll be offered the chance to “workshop” your piece in a supportive environment. We’ll conclude with practical tips about getting published.

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