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Stanford University School of Medicine

On learning, the patient’s voice and the power of stories: Stanford’s Medicine X | ED begins

Excitement was in the air this morning as Stanford's Medicine X | ED conference began. The event focuses on new and innovative ways to look at health-care education and highlights the importance of bringing the patient's voice into the dialogue early on.

Apropos for a conference on education, Larry Chu, MD, founder of Medicine X, started with a touching story about his very first teacher -- his mom -- and how her influence as a role model eventually brought him into the world of medicine. "As a first-generation American growing up in the Midwest where no one else looks like you, role models matter," he told the audience."Mentorship matters."

In fact stories are really what Medicine X | ED is all about, and Chu told the audience of 350 -- which includes caregivers, patients, students and the "under-heard" voices -- that his story isn't the only one they'll hear about this weekend. "Stories cut to the heart of who we are at MedicineX," he said. "And what unites these stories are the teachable moments we provide." He urged this weekend's participants to listen openly to new voices and to "trust in each other to take that wall down between your professional selves and your personal selves. Stories have the power to teach others. Listening to those stories and telling those stories can be a healing experience."

Chu went on to stress that truly listening to the patient experience is key to innovation and progress in the world of health-care education. Speaking directly to the many patients in the room he said that change is here and that patients are no longer "a passive voice or a subject to be studied. We must recognize that you have expertise to share and knowledge to be valued."

Thomas Lee of the tech company Symplur, took the stage shortly after to discuss the impact of the ideas that are being spawned at Medicine X -- most importantly the idea of "everyone included" in medicine. "What happens here is bigger than just what's in this room -- unlike what happens in Las Vegas, what happens here does not and should not stay here," he said, to laughs around the room. "As the Twitter conversation emanates from this conference it's going to start conversations outside of these walls and around the globe."

Dan Schwarz, PhD, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, also took to the stage to discuss how doctors -- and the rest of us -- can learn to learn better. He cautioned that we're all conditioned to "see what we know, which blocks what is new," and he urged change in medical education to a more feedback-oriented and adaptive model. He spoke eloquently about the power of learning, saying, "Learning sustains us. It makes us better and what we do. It reaffirms our humanity."

We'll be hearing a lot more today and tomorrow about learning.

Previously: Medicine X | ED happening this weekend, Medicine X | ED founder Larry Chu on the need to rethink health-care education and A Stanford expert in the science of learning turns his attention to medical education
Photo courtesy of Stanford Medicine X

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