The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Hosts the First Citywide Medical Story Slam

Cultural Alliance Releases Agenda: WellnessExploring the Intersection of Art and Medicine

PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2018 -- On Monday, May 7, The College of Physicians, along with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, will present the first-ever citywide medical story slam, featuring performances by medical students at seven Philadelphia area-medical schools. The Story Slam brings together for the first time Drexel, Jefferson, Temple, University of Pennsylvania, and other medical schools to tell stories about life in medicine.

In addition, the Cultural Alliance will celebrate the release of Agenda: Wellness at the Story Slam. Agenda: Wellness, the third in a series of advocacy tools that outline the impact of arts and culture on other civic issues, highlights work being done in the medical sector to train doctors and other health professionals through arts-based curriculum.

For the medical story slam, each university has been invited to submit teams of two storytellers--at least one of whom is a current medical student. The event mirrors the story slams that are part of the Temple University Narrative Medicine curriculum as well as other popular story slams like those presented by The Moth at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live. Competitors will share stories based on their interactions with patients, their experience in medical school or the impact of their career on their own lives.

“The College of Physicians has, since 1787, been a hub for medical professionals and students to gather and relay stories and ideas without limitations,” says George Wohlreich, President and CEO of The College of Physicians. “The Story Slam gives all the medical students in the region an entertaining opportunity to network and regale tales from their professional experiences, while also allowing for them to consider medicine as both an art and a science, during a light-hearted and lively evening.”

“While the conventional wisdom--that the arts improve patient outcomes--holds true, what’s even more exciting and happening right here at home is the integration of arts into medical education,” says Anne Marie Rhoades, vice president of advocacy & strategic partnerships at the Cultural Alliance. “Philadelphia and the region are home to both groundbreaking advances in medicine and a world-class cultural sector. In gathering research for Agenda: Wellness, we found that not only do the arts help doctors themselves fight burnout, but patients treated by arts-educated doctors and receiving arts-integrated care have measurably better outcomes.”

Agenda: Wellness highlights medical programs across the city that leverage the arts to improve outcomes for doctors and patients alike:

  • At the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, the Narrative Medicine program seeks to “focus on the human side of medicine” by integrating storytelling into the elective curriculum. Students and faculty participate in Narrative Medicine Story Slams, reflecting on lessons learned and interactions with patients as a way to share and process personal and professional experiences.
  • Hands-on and “eyes-on” exercises are part of the curriculum presented at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to medical students and practicing physicians at Jefferson University, Drexel University College of Medicine and Cooper Medical School at Rowan University. Improving observational skills through “visual literacy” enhances doctors’ and students’ abilities to differentiate between similar conditions, as well as to identify the changes caused by a syndrome or disease, in order to make the correct diagnosis.
  • Jefferson University and Lantern Theater Company partner to use theater to foster empathy in medical students and health professionals. Participants in the workshops draw on performance techniques and writing exercises that they then use to better see patient perspectives and engage with peers. A final, live performance is presented by Jefferson students and Lantern artists.

“From diagnosis to bedside manners, medicine is as much an art as a science,” says Jeffrey Hom, MD, Philadelphia Department of Public Health policy advisor. “Given the increasing complexity of modern medicine and our capacity to reduce a disease to a molecule or gene, there may be no more important time to remember that the patient with that disease is a person. Agenda: Wellness highlights the importance of including the humanities in the training of health professionals to make us better clinicians, observant of and attendant to not only the details we see on an MRI, but also the details of our patients’ stories and lives.”

The Story Slam will be held on May 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the College of Physicians, 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. The event is open to the public and $10 tickets can be purchased via EventBrite.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded in 1787 by a group of physicians including Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. It is not an academic organization, as the name suggests, but a not-for-profit educational and cultural institution, with the mission of advancing the cause of health while upholding the ideals and heritage of medicine. The College is home to the Mütter Museum and the Historical Medical Library.

Established in 1972, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is the region’s leading arts and cultural advocacy, research and marketing organization. Our mission is to “lead, strengthen and amplify the voices of a cultural community that ignites creativity, inspires people and is essential for a healthy region.” Our membership includes over 450 organizations ranging from museums and dance companies to community art centers, historic sites, music ensembles and zoos. For more information on the Cultural Alliance, please visit



Editor’s Note: For a full copy of Agenda: Wellness as well as a selection of high-resolution photos, visit the online press room at