The patient is a central category of recent (bio)medicine — this symposium focuses on the fragile patient, the patient as an object of biomedical science and industrialized care:

The Patient: A Symposium, Bucknell University, October 18 & 19, 2006

Precariously situated between home and hospital, work and bed, life and death, the patient occupies a liminal, unstable position. Charged to identify with her state as with the moral virtue from which she receives her name, the patient also lives in the fear of our indifference and impatience. Although attended by doctors, nurses, family and friends, her condition – particularly if it is chronic – ever threatens to sever her connections with the world and to exile her into that fundamental solitude owned by the sick and suffering.

Immersed within a society and medical system that seeks optimum outcomes linked to zero errors, the patient receives care delivered with industrial efficiency. Advances in diagnostic and therapeutic modalities provide both cure and control of chronic illness not imagined a decade ago. Poised to benefit on multiple fronts, she should be increasingly satisfied with the medical encounter; and yet, many patients feel alienated or even violated by the efficiency of the medical system. What defines a quality medical encounter from her perspective? What do medical practitioners – nurses, physicians, social workers – value in their relationship with the patient? How is this relationship preserved and nurtured? What are the opportunities or perils in the physician-patient relationship?

It seems timely to counteract the quantification of the patient by the health care industry and to call for a humanistic reconstitution of the patient’s experience and situation, to reconsider, rethink, and emphatically re-imagine the patient in her environments, ancient and contemporary, intimate and social. Papers written from a humanistic or medical perspective addressing the following topics are invited:

– the patient in literary contexts
– the patient in film
– the dying patient
– the patience of the patient
– the patient and communication
– the ill and the well
– the chronic patient
– the quality medical encounter from the perspective of the patient
– patient satisfaction
– the quality medical encounter from the perspective of the physician
– physician satisfaction

Submit one page abstracts and a short CV by January 31, 2006. The symposium will be held on the campus of Bucknell University, October 18 and 19, 2006. A selection of papers will be published by Aperus: Histories, Texts, Cultures.

Harold Schweizer, Chair Michael Foltzer, MD
Department of English, Geisinger Medical Center
Bucknell University 100 N Academy MC21-11
Lewisburg, PA 17837 Danville, PA 17822
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