UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Family Medicine | Medical Education | Medical Humanities | Primary Care


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Reflective writing in medicine allows for the opportunity to analyze, interpret, and learn from clinical experiences. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the beneficial effects of reflective reading and writing for a department using a weekly listserve.

METHODS: The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School sends out a weekly reflective writing story written by its members to celebrate clinical/teaching success. We conducted a 19-item questionnaire in the summer of 2014 among all 402 members.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were completed by 161 of 402 (40%) readers and 50 of 122 (41%) writers. Readers found many benefits; 84% reported learning "a lot" about how a colleague handled a certain clinical situation, while 79% found that the reflective writing listserve helped them feel more connected to colleagues. A total of 83% reported that reading the weekly story positively affected their empathy and patient centeredness. Those who reported reading the stories most often were more likely to report achieving the most benefits. The majority of respondents who wrote stories agreed with all suggested benefits of writing; 73% reported that writing allowed them to celebrate a patient/research/teaching encounter that they were proud of, and 72% reported that it gave them better perspective or clarity about a patient experience "a lot" of the time.

CONCLUSIONS: As departments struggle with provider burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed and disconnected, strategies like a reflective writing listserve may be a means to improve support and inspire clinicians and learners to feel fulfilled.


narrative medicine, reflective writing


Veno M, Silk H, Savageau JA, Sullivan KM. Evaluating One Strategy for Including Reflection in Medical Education and Practice. Fam Med. 2016 Apr;48(4):300-4. PubMed PMID: 27057609. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Family medicine


Meghan Veno is a second-year medical student who completed this study as part of a medical school summer research fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for which Dr. Hugh Silk was her mentor.

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID