Seven Doctors Project Is My Livelihood
Seven Doctors Project, which I formed in spring 2008 at the Nebraska Medical Center, was an experiment—of the non-scientific variety. I wanted to see what would happen if mid-career physicians who were encountering job dissatisfaction or burnout joined a writing workshop led by area writers. I also wanted to see what would happen if the physicians were placed, maybe for the first time in quite a while, in the apprentice position.
Patients are often baffled by the language of healthcare. The language of creative writing has its own jargon and idiosyncrasies. Ambiguity rules the day. In the creative writing workshop, there is not just one diagnosis.
The seven physicians who joined the first session of Seven Doctors Project loved it. Sure, they were frustrated at times. Who wouldn’t be? But, despite the vagueness, some of which is calculated, of the conversation about poems, stories and essays submitted to the workshop, they hung in there. Most of the members of the original cohort have continued to write. Several of them have published their work.
Other physicians heard about Seven Doctors Project, and we formed a second session. A university lawyer joined that group, so the door was open for non-physician participants. Over the last five years, we’ve seen a wide variety of participants—researchers, nurses, students, patients. I never really believed in the therapeutic value of pursuing creative writing. Now I do.
I am grateful that the Nebraska Writers Collective, a thriving non-profit that specializes in outreach to young people, took Seven Doctors Project under its banner on July 1, 2013. Being part of NWC will allow us to do more and better community outreach and mentorship. We have formed a Seven Doctors Project Development Committee—which includes many of our alumni. We will rely on them to help us raise awareness and funding to grow our program.
Contact Steve Langan for more information at 402.659.6343 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Langan received degrees from the University of Nebraska and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Langan is the author of Freezing (2001), Notes on Exile and Other Poems (2005), Meet Me at the Happy Bar (2009) and the forthcoming What It Looks Like, How It Flies (2013). Langan teaches at the University of Nebraska MFA in Writing program. He serves as executive director of HONOReform, a national patient advocacy organization. Additionally, he is founder and director of the Seven Doctors Project, based in Omaha, in which area writers guide healthcare workers in a writing workshop.