In 2010, the Duke Graduate Medical Education Innovation Fund provided seed funding to pilot “Documenting Medicine,” a program which pairs Duke physician residents and fellows with documentarians at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies to produce small documentary projects exploring medical stories over the course of nine months. These projects are then shared in Grand Rounds, conferences, poster sessions, exhibits, community educational events and other venues.

John Moses, a primary care pediatrician at Duke University Medical Center and photographer, understands the value of putting a camera, audio recorder or pen into the hands of practicing physicians.  ”Using the tools of documentary helps clinicians examine any number of health concerns in a fresh and eye-opening way, while also producing materials (images, audio, film) that others can learn from,” says Dr. Moses. For the last ten years, in addition to a busy clinical practice, Dr. Moses has been teaching two undergraduate courses, Medicine and the Vision of Documentary Photography and Children and the Experience of Illness, in which students teach photography to children being treated for illness and write about their experiences during the semester. Dr. Moses has also produced a number of documentary projects and has had work published in several books. He is a frequent lecturer to Duke medical students.

Liisa Ogburn, an instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies, directs the program. Funding will support Duke residents and fellows through 2012/2013.

“The teenagers I photographed taught me a lot, even as many of them struggled with serious challenges in their own lives. Having gone out to meet with them in their world, I came away with no neat formulations about teenage pregnancy but rather a richer, more accurate context in which to see them, and I hope, better understand their experience.” – John Moses, M.D.

“People learn using different modalities, and for some people the visual route opens the door to understanding. Even richer than teaching using documentary methods is the experience of the individual who prepares the materials, since documentary studies by their nature include rich human interactions. We learn when we take part, whether as the subject, the documentarian, or the viewer. This is a unusually meaningful project in which I'm very glad to participate." - Dr. Ross McKinney, Director of the Trent Center

Copyright © 2019 Documenting Medicine: A Program for Physicians.