Dr. Perri Klass, renowned author and pediatrician, was the invited speaker at the second annual Medical Student Humanism and Bioethics Symposium, held on December 6, 2012. The symposium is hosted by the office of bioethics education, to promote humanism and a high standard of ethics in medicine.
During a spirited and inspiring talk, "Hearing Secrets, Telling Stories," Dr. Klass, who is professor of journalism and of pediatrics at New York University, shared anecdotes and reflected on her personal experiences both as a clinician and as a writer. Emphasizing that the two are intricately intertwined, she noted, "What drives you in medicine, drives you in writing."
She explained that her love for writing and interests in biology and medicine began to converge while she was a medical student at Harvard in the 1980s. Since then, she has drawn material for her stories from experiences inside and outside of the clinic.
Her writing spans a variety of forms, including novels, essays, short stories, and journalistic pieces, through which she offers insights into family life, raising children, life as a physician and the value of literacy.
Dr. Klass has won numerous awards for her work as a pediatrician and as a writer. She also serves as president and medical director of Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit that promotes early literacy through doctors and nurses who provide primary care to young children.
In closing, she told students, "Studying medicine really does make writers of us all."
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