On June 9, the Metro Minnesota Council on Graduate Medical Education (MMCGME) hosted its first virtual story slam, “Reflections on Life in a Pandemic,” over Zoom. The event was an adaptation of the organization’s annually held story slam for MMCGME community trainees and physicians. 

Since its inception nearly three years ago, the MMCGME annual story slam has been an evening for trainees, physicians and faculty to explore the intersection between medicine and storytelling—two practices that may seem mutually exclusive at first glance. “Reflections on Life in a Pandemic” tapped into the spirit of the regularly held event by providing an outlet for the participants to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two members of the Department of Radiology participated in the virtual event. An assistant professor in the Department of Radiology, Noelle Hoven, MD, and Yu-Hui Huang, MD, MS, a transitional resident at Hennepin County Medical Center and a soon-to-be R1 radiology resident, were among the 13 participants to share their stories with the nearly 250 attendees. 

On the choice to participate in the story slam Dr. Huang said, ”I have always believed in the power of expression whether it be visual or literary. Sharing our stories and parts of ourselves render us vulnerable, but it can also help influence and inspire others. It forges connections among people and ideas.”

Dr. Huang shared a poem about the overwhelming helplessness she felt “behind the distance”—unable to effectively comfort patients. On the other hand,Dr. Hoven shared a piece she wrote after returning to Minnesota from a cruise with her family at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We came home to a life turned upside down. Work was different, distancing measures were in full force and a stay at home order was in place. It felt like the twilight zone,” Dr. Hoven said about her experience and the challenges she encountered caring for patients in the breast clinic afterwards. In her reflection on the virtual story slam, Dr. Hoven said, “Medicine needs more events like this—space and time to be vulnerable, exchange our successes, failures and general experiences. In the end, we discover that we are a lot more alike than we may anticipate.”

For more information about past and upcoming story slams, please visit the MMCGME website.