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Afurther area of conflict involves the `doubleagency' of doctors for both patients and thecommunity.
We talk about how to craft their anecdotes into compelling narratives, to harness emotions into images, to describe a person vividly through detail and metaphor.
It’s when a piece starts to shine as potentially publishable that things get tricky.
Still, I was pretty sure that one of her children—if they happened to come across this—would recognize that their mother was the main character in this story.
I teach an annual writing workshop to medical residents and this issue comes up year after year.
And yet I wasn’t convinced, so I put the story away.
Two years later, I read it again and decided to contact the ex-wife one more time.
I told them that I shared the impulse to capture these stories in bracing, telling words.
Then I urged them to think about power in the doctor-patient relationship, and whether asking for permission to share a story in a personal essay is enough to remedy the moral ambiguity.
Recently, we wrapped up our annual writing workshop.
As always, most of the residents are budding personal essayists and many wrote true-life narratives about their patients.