On April 18, UNE hosted the second annual Health Care Story Slam, showcasing 10 storytellers as they shared emotional experiences from a variety of health care backgrounds.
The event was hosted by the Office of Innovation and organized by Justine Bassett, M.S., director of Innovation and the P.D. Merrill Makerspace, as well as UNE’s Innovation Fellows and student organizer Theresea Orlandella (Medical Biology, ’23).
The theme of this year’s event was “Silver Linings.” Orlandella said that, despite the challenging stories that arise in health care, the organizers wanted to focus on the positive aspects and takeaways for both providers and consumers in the field.
“Last year, we tried to focus more on providers in health care because we have a lot of prospective medical students here. But this year, we tried to expand it more toward consumers of health care, because it gives an additional perspective,” Orlandella remarked. “I think a lot of people don't know what the silver lining can be when you're dealing with an illness or an injury and coming through that.”
Dean of the Westbrook College of Health Professions, Jennifer Lee Morton, D.N.P., M.P.H., PHNA-BC, told a story of traveling to Ghana with health professions students and watching the meaningful interactions they had with a 102-year-old patient and her 82-year-old son.
“This story is so formative for me. It happened so many years ago, but to see the transformation of these physiotherapy students with this experience over time is the silver lining that we all need in health professions, education, and health care,” Morton said during her story.
Hailey Carr (Marine Biology, ’26) was the youngest storyteller at the event. She said despite her age, she has been a consumer of health care since she was 13 years old when her chronic pain started.
“I want to share my story because I'm so young,” Carr said “People look at me and they don't think that I'm sick, or they don't see what I have gone through. But it's so much a part of who I am, so I want to share as much as I can.”
Carr shared the story of the day she finally got diagnosed with her chronic illness and the struggles and victories she experienced while in the health care system.
Hal Cohen ’87 has had a long career as a physician and shared a heartbreaking story of the death of a four-year-old patient. However, he shared the silver lining story of the close bond he built with the patient’s family years later. He spoke of the beautiful friendships and love that can come from tragedy.
“[As health care providers], we're in a field where you're going to be humbled every day, and that's okay. It’s how we live and how we grow from our mistakes that's unexpected,” Cohen said. “I know 90% of everything that's going to happen every day, but it's the 10%, that's really — that’s what you tell stories about.”
Storytelling as a medium
This form of oral storytelling is a unique and creative outlet for people in health care to share their experiences, Orlandella said. She spoke about the way the event allows for the intersection of the humanities and the medical sciences to come together.
Carr said planning and sharing her story in this format helped her to reflect on her experience in a new way.
“I've told this story back to front hundreds of times to so many different people, and just the process of writing it this way made me remember and go through the emotions almost again. It's just been a wild experience to reprocess the whole thing and put it into words,” she said.
For Morton, she hopes this event continues as she sees it as a critical form of learning for health professions students.
“In oral narratives, you get more emotion,” Morton said. “The storytelling and narrative side of it is a really important takeaway for students as they enter practice,” she remarked.