Summa Health System leaders discuss narrative medicine in new book

August 26, 2008

Akron, Ohio, August 26, 2008 - Leaders from Summa Health System's Institute for Professionalism Inquiry have released a new book, "Narrative in Health Care." The book delves into the practice of narrative medicine, which recognizes that the stories of patients and clinicians are at the heart of patient care.

The authors of "Narrative in Health Care" stress that a clinician's rich understanding of patients' narratives can guide diagnosis and treatment as well as strengthen the caregiving relationship that results when patients feel they are being heard. The book also discusses the importance of teaching the practice of narrative medicine to the next generation of health care professionals through the use of exercises and scholarly discussion.

"As science advances, it's sometimes forgotten that medicine is a human enterprise," said Joseph Zarconi, M.D., Summa's vice president for medical education and research and executive director of the Institute for Professionalism Inquiry. "By understanding the personal history and goals of the patient, narrative medicine provides a renewed focus on what's most important - providing the best personalized care for each individual patient.

"Narrative in Health Care" was written by John D. Engel, Ph.D., scientific director and founding fellow of Summa's Institute for Professionalism Inquiry; Joseph Zarconi, M.D., vice president for medical education and research and executive director of the Institute for Professionalism Inquiry; Lura L. Pethtel, M.Ed., research coordinator and founding fellow of the Institute for Professionalism Inquiry; and Sally Missimi, R.N., Ph.D., director of medical education and founding fellow of the Institute for Professionalism Inquiry.
"Narrative in Health Care" is published by Radcliffe-Oxford and is available for sale at and Proceeds will benefit the Summa Foundation.

Summa's Institute for Professionalism Inquiry provides a focus for scholarly activity to explore the relationship between acts of professionalism and humanism and the education and practice of health professionals. The institute conducts multidisciplinary research on various dimensions of professionalism and humanism; creates and nurtures a community of scholars including physicians, nurses, other care professionals, humanities scholars, and social/behavioral scientists; and creates and disseminates materials and programs that enhance professional and humanistic practices in the health professions.

About Summa Health System

Summa Health System is one of the largest organized delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, research and a foundation, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Healthcare (formerly Solucient) and The Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit

Summa Health System

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