Story slam
From Left to Right: Benjamin R. Stabler, MD; Michael Knolle, DO; Neelofer Sohail, MD; Swapna Deshpande, MD; Beth Horenkamp, MD; Edward Chory, MD; Justin Harberson, MD; Jason Scott, MD

Since the beginning of time, people have built strong connections by sharing stories. As part of December’s Department of Medicine Grand Rounds “LGH Story SlamJam,” seven LG Health physicians did just that. The well-attended CME event aimed to use storytelling to help strengthen provider collegiality while fighting burnout.

Storytelling is nothing new for Beth Horenkamp, MD, of Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Hematology & Medical Oncology, who has competed in the monthly Lancaster Story

Slam since 2016. Horenkamp said storytelling that is realistic can help to normalize experiences that are both moving and frustrating.

“The softer side of medicine has gone by the wayside in an age of big technology and shiny new tools,” she said before the CME event. “The reality of why most of us went into medicine is about the human, everyday interactions. My storytelling is usually about that.”

Horenkamp inspired her colleague, Swapna Deshpande, MD, of Penn State Health Medical Group – General Internal Medicine of Lancaster, to join her by sharing a story during the Lancaster Story Slam last January, which Deshpande won.

“Through my own experiences, I have learned that we are in this together,” Deshpande said at the CME event. “To avoid burnout, we have to depend on each other.” Benjamin R. Stabler, MD, first-year resident, LGH Family Medicine Residency Program, recalled how the fear he faced during a personal battle with cancer as a young adult fueled a passion for developing interpersonal relationship with his patients.

Neelofer Sohail, MD, LG Health Physicians Geriatrics, described a particularly difficult case, where her team pulled together despite facing multiple barriers, supporting not only their patient but each other.

“Without a team there is nothing,” Sohail said. “Our team drives success and provides support to each other. That is why I do what I do.”

Edward Chory, MD, of LG Health Physicians Surgical Group, had never attended a story slam before the CME event. Chory, who is well-known for his tendency to tell stories, agreed to participate at the invitation of Deshpande. Chory retired in early 2020 after more than 28 years with LG Health. He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share his experiences and perspective with his colleagues, especially the younger generation.

“I’ve learned that trust is the heart of our profession,” Chory shared. “We must never underestimate the power of taking the time to listen to our patients.”

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