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Table 3 A synthesis of the essence and meaning of learners’ experiences with narrative medicine

From: Understanding the lived experiences of medical learners in a narrative medicine course: a phenomenological study

Learning in narrative medicine begins with learner hesitancy in response to the course requirements, writing a personal narrative and then sharing it in a small group. Learners’ conceptions about narrative medicine, shaped by previous assumptions of and experiences with humanistic courses, influence their attitudes as they set out on this journey. Learners show substantial hesitation at the outset, either being in doubt about choosing what to write about or uncertain about the proclaimed benefits of narrative medicine, and even show resistance to participate in the course or engage in writing narratives. However, writing narratives creates a space for learners to reflect and serves as a vehicle for shifting roles in narratives. It encourages learners to put themselves in patients’ shoes, to look at things from different angles, and to raise sensitivity to patients’ needs in clinical practice as healthcare professionals. In doing so, learners may experience transformation in several aspects, such as heightened self-awareness, emotion regulation, perspective changes, and generation of action plans in response to various clinical circumstances. Learners become empowered along the journey by achieving better understandings about patients and enriching personal repertoires for dealing with similar situations in future practice. Notably, learner hesitancy is either alleviated by the guidance they seek, accompanied by the relationships built among the educators and group members, and supported in a safe learning environment, or it can be deepened at the next level whenever learners fail to gain guidance, question insecure relationships in a subversive learning climate along the journey.