On September 28, 2019, I attended a conference sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled “Telling Your Health Story”.  The conference was created to help more storytellers from the health world find their widest audience while expressing their most authentic voices.  I was particularly struck by a presentation by the director of the narrative writing program at the Temple University School of Medicine, entitled “Narrative Writing: How 10 Minutes With Pen and Paper can Change Everything”.

The attendees read Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” poem published in 1978, in which the author distills thousands of experiences from an Antiguan childhood into 49 instructions from mother to daughter.  They are delivered quickly, with precise detail, with bluntness, without apology.  We were then given 7 minutes to write in the same format as the “Girl” poem on how to be a resident physician, healthcare provider, or any other profession.  What resulted was a wonderful exercise in the act of thinking about your own experiences and taking a moment to string words together. 

The ability to engage in creative expression allows one to better relate to the world we live in, and most importantly, discover your true self.       

Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and the Challenge of Growing Up in Medical Training

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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