Sharing the Work

Over the last three years, we have shared work produced by participants in Duke University’s Documenting Medicine program in three end-of-year events, a number of exhibits, in national conferences (including the American Public Health Association, the international Narrative Medicine Conference, the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the American Psychiatric Association and others) as well […]

What Is It Like, Where You Are Now?

Everyone knows that the Boomers are aging, and the older adult population is growing exponentially – that the 65 and up crowd will more than double by 2030, for example. Fewer people know that there are nowhere near enough geriatricians to care for them. Geriatricians are doctors specially trained in appreciating the full context of […]

Cancer Warriors: Reflections on the Journey Through Cancer

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 13.7 million people with a history of cancer were alive in the United States in 2012. An additional 1.6 million people will be diagnosed in 2013. An estimated 1600 people die of cancer everyday. For those diagnosed, what was once a normal daily life focused on family, work or […]

Welcome to Crazy Camp

Mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. An estimated 26 percent of Americans suffer from a mental disorder in a given year and about 6 percent suffer from a serious mental illness.  According to the U.S. Surgeon Generals Report on Mental Health, almost two-thirds of people with diagnosed mental illness do […]

When Doctors Get Sick

A brief brush with illness during my intern year led me to reevaluate the duality between physician and patient. I began to really wonder what it might be like to be a patient; to see the hospital from the inside out, to wear a gown and not a white coat, to ask permission rather than […]

I Will Go With You: Patsy’s Mission to Educate Others About Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite recommendations for colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50, nearly 40% of Americans still do not obtain screening.  

How to See the Forest and the Trees

Admissions, progress notes, discharge summaries, scribbled lab values, efficient rounds, and immaculately updated cross-cover lists. Intern year is stuffed with documentation and data. It doesn’t take long to feel that’s all that matters. However, behind the hypokalemia and midnight Tylenol orders are people and stories. Each piece of objective data matters, but each is like […]


Autism Spectrum Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder now effects an estimated 1 in 55 children in the US. While there is a commonality in the symptomatology, the disorder effects it’s patients and their families in a variety of ways. In this project, we will look at one family’s perspective and experience of having a young […]

The Lullaby Lives On: Grieving the Loss of an Adult Child

The death of an adult child is painful, pervasive and one that subverts natural order. Nearly 10% of parents above the age of 60 years face the death of an adult child. The bereaved elderly parent is often left faced with profound grief marked by changing dynamics in relationships, changes in world views, and further […]

Elder Abuse: Suffering in Silence

Elder abuse was first described in the literature in the1970’s as granny battering and is simply defined as any harmful act towards an older adult. Elder abuse encompasses several types of abuse including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, and self-neglect. It is estimated that 1 to 2 million older adults living in the United States […]

Going Full Circle: A Residency Rooted in Revolutionary Principles

The Duke’s Department of Community and Family Medicine was established in 1966 in the midst of the civil rights movement with an emphasis on health equity and a mission to improve the health of people in their communities. My documentary explores the links between the department’s early roots and the recent re-design of the Family […]

Bridging the Gap in Global Pediatric Oncology

Over 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year, but until recently childhood cancer in low/middle income countries has received little attention from researchers and health organizations.  Barriers include concerns about the ability to diagnose and treat in areas with limited resources.   However, regardless of the environment, many of the emotions and concerns that […]

In God We Trust

As a second year pediatric resident, I have seen a myriad of families endure the effects of childhood illness. Across the board, these families have developed a variety of impressive strategies to cope with their child’s illness. I wanted to investigate how parents find the strength to cope with childhood illness. One family in particular […]

Financial Toxicity as a Consequence of Cancer Care

Cancer treatment is incredibly expensive, and places a tremendous burden on patients–even those with insurance. The majority of bankruptcies in the United States are due to unpaid medical bills, and the rate of medical bankruptcies rapidly rises each year. Despite recent healthcare reform efforts, medical costs continue to disrupt the already difficult lives of cancer […]

A Documentary Approach to Learning Patient Care

This is the third year in a pilot program at Duke University in which we mentor medical residents and fellows as they produce a documentary project about a patient or care-giver.  All projects are shared in Grand Rounds talks, conferences, exhibits, lectures and other venues. In this five-minute video, Dr. Moses and Liisa Ogburn reflect […]

Tough Times

For the last few years, I have been collecting a range of stories about motherhood and how the experience of motherhood changes us. I’ve been especially drawn to those stories which we often don’t hear. Stories that involve challenges, require growth and deepen wisdom. When we are inside these kinds of experiences, there’s nothing more […]


Each year, about one in 33 babies (or 3 percent) is born with a serious birth defect (CDC, 2012). A much larger percentage will develop a serious condition or disorder before reaching the age of 18. One of the most common conditions—mental illness that significantly interferes with daily life—will affect 20 percent of American children […]

Young Gunshot Victims

The United States is a world leader among developed countries in the number of civilian citizens who are killed or injured by guns each year. Every day an average of 32 Americans are killed by guns and more than 65 survive the physical and psychic damage of gunshot wounds. As a pediatrician, I have become […]

Only a Kid

In Fall 2012, through her course “Documentary Engagement,” Ogburn paired Duke undergraduates and graduate students with girls between the ages of 10 and 17 enrolled in Duke’s Healthy Lifestyles program in order to collaboratively tell their stories using photography and audio. These girls had all been referred to Healthy Lifestyles by their pediatricians because they […]

The Time of Our Lives: Living With Brain Cancer

The Time of Our Lives This documentary reveals how six individuals and their families are thinking about their lives and, more importantly, living their lives in the knowledge and context of having brain cancer. It tells patient stories through their own first person voices and a collection of still photographs taken on visits with them […]

Surgery at the Margins: Understanding Pediatric Trauma

Pediatric trauma is the leading cause of death and disability among children 0-18, yet “critical deficiencies” in the treatment and prevention of childhood trauma have lead to a call for more research iniatives in this area. Although demographic data is available from large national trauma databases, the complex interplay of socioeconomic status, race, culture, and […]

Surviving Cardiac Arrest: A Family’s Perspective on a Second Chance at Life

Cardiac arrest is a common cause of cardiovascular death claiming the lives of more than 380,000 Americans per year. Survival from cardiac arrest is very low. Here in North Carolina, only 12% of cardiac arrest victims survive. The ability to perform CPR rapidly is a critical first step to increasing the chances for survival. Unfortunately, […]

Beyond the Exam Room:

Nearly a century after the birth of American pediatrics as a specialty, the health of children has improved dramatically. Despite advances in vaccination, education and legislative measures to protect maternal and child health, there exist persistent barriers to childrens’ health. Abraham Jacobi, the father of American pediatrics, charged pediatricians to advance the field with broad-reaching, […]

En Sus Zapatos: Serving the Hispanic Populations: Challenges of the Primary Care Doctor

As a rising third year resident in the Family and Community Medicine Program, and as a native Spanish speaker and immigrant from Puerto Rico, at least 30% of the patients I see are Latino. In North Carolina, Hispanics account for more than 63% of the population growth in the last years. Working in primary care […]

The Holding Environment: Photographs of Psychotherapy Rooms

Within medicine today, patients receive care in doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals. Typically these rooms are staid, predictable and interchangeable. An examination room in a North Carolina hospital or clinic probably appears quite similar to an examination room in a hospital or clinic in New York, South Dakota or Texas. Where this model departs is […]

The Radiologist’s Role in Medical Care

Radiology is a medical specialty often misunderstood by practitioners in the medical community and patients alike. There is a certain mystery attached to radiology and as a result our patients may not have a clear understanding of the role radiologists play in their care. I wanted to create a video to serve as a quick […]

Assisted Infection: The Impact of a Hepatitis B Outbreak at an Assisted Living Facility in North Carolina

Infection control problems during assisted monitoring of blood glucose at an assisted living facility in North Carolina resulted in an outbreak of hepatitis B virus infections. Among the 40 facility residents who were susceptible to infection from hepatitis B virus, eight residents developed acute infections, and six of those died from hepatitis complications. All eight […]

Delirium’s Impact

Delirium is a clinical syndrome characterized by an acute change in mental status or sudden confusion with inattention as the hallmark feature. It is often the first presenting sign of illness in older adults. Delirium is the most common hospital complication in the elderly and is associated with poor patient outcomes, including increased need for […]

Work-Related: A Coal Miner’s Story

Workplace injuries are common and lead to chronic health problems, death, and significant financial and social costs. For every 100 full-time positions, employees suffered 3.6 cases of nonfatal, recordable injuries or illnesses in 2009 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).  However, by most estimates, this is likely only a fraction of the true rate of injuries […]

Exploring Postpartum Patient Satisfaction Among Spanish-Speaking Mothers: An Audio Documentary

Exploring Postpartum Patient Satisfaction Among Spanish-Speaking Mothers: An Audio Documentary from Liisa Ogburn on Vimeo. Postpartum satisfaction surveys are an important patient-reported indicator of healthcare quality and patient response to such surveys may impact hospital reimbursement in the near future. Identifying barriers to participation is a key element to improving healthcare quality assessment and serving […]

Documenting Medicine: A Day in the Life of a Patient

This two-day intensive is designed for people with little documentary experience who are interested in using photography and audio to tell the story of a person with a serious medical condition. Students will see examples of relevant work, learn the fundamentals of capturing good quality sound and images, discuss the ethics and constraints of documenting […]

Life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: One Mother’s Story

Premature births—those that occur before 37 weeks of gestation—are associated with one-third of all infant deaths and account for nearly 45 percent of children with cerebral palsy, 35 percent of children with vision impairment, and 25 percent of children with cognitive or hearing impairment. In the United States, more than half a million babies are […]


This year, about 2.5 million Americans will die. About 900,000 of them, or three in ten, will get hospice care in their last weeks or months. Hospice is specialized care for terminally ill patients with less than six months to live. It offers a way in which family, doctors, nurses, pastors, and the community can […]

Frequent Flyers in the Emergency Room

In 2010, the United States spent $2.6 trillion on healthcare (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Emergency room (ER) visits make up about 3 percent of the national healthcare bill, or $78 billion. (American College of Emergency Physicians). Though the demand for emergency care is up by 32 percent — up to 128 million visits in 2008, […]

Using Documentary to Understand Adolescent Addiction

Half of high school students currently use addictive substances. One in eight high school students have a diagnosable clinical substance use disorder involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. Only six to eight percent of the total number of patients in need of treatment receive care. Adolescent and Child Psychiatry Chief Resident Jennifer Segura found herself […]

The Hospice Experiment

This year, about 2.5 million Americans will die. About 900,000 of them, or three in ten, will get hospice care in their last weeks or months. Hospice is specialized care for terminally ill patients with less than six months to live. Its workers and volunteers often develop close personal relationships with their patients, exploring emotional, […]

Can Photography Make You a Better Doctor?

In this talk, “Can Photography Make You a Better Doctor?: Reflections on a Life in Photography and Medicine,” Duke pediatrician and photographer John Moses discusses how he has used photography over the last twenty-five years to better understand the lives of his patients and hopefully become a better doctor. Moses first came to photography while […]

The Youngest Parents

About the Project Since 1986, I have been working as a doctor and a photographer in the Piedmont of North Carolina. In the clinic I work as a general pediatrician, I help care for teenagers, not a few of whom become parents at an early age. In working with these teens and their children as […]

Documenting Medicine: An Opportunity for Duke Residents

Make That Documentary: A Program for Duke Medical Residents from Liisa Ogburn on Vimeo. The Innovation Grant, a Program of the Chancellor’s Fund, awards support each spring for a handful of innovative programs which enhance the educational experience of Duke resident physicians and fellows. Much of current medical training concentrates on enabling doctors to use […]

Children and the Experience of Illness

About the Project Each year for the last 11 years, Duke Pediatrician John Moses teaches a class called “Children and the Experience of Illness.” For this class, Duke undergraduates work closely with a child to teach them how to use a camera as a means of exploring illness — which either the child themselves or […]

Diagnosis: A Photographer’s Guide

“Diagnosis: A Photographer’s Guide,” A Talk by Alex Harris from Center for Documentary Studies on Vimeo. In this talk photographer Alex Harris shows his photographs taken at the Samaritan House Clinic in San Mateo California and discusses how his work as a documentary photographer in the field resonates with the work of physicians in the […]

Voices of Palliative Care

In this 8-minute piece, Duke Palliative Care Fellow Chris Jones explores why a Chaplain, a social worker, two nurses, and a nursing assistant were first attracted to this field and what keeps them there. With support from the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, selected Duke Physician Residents and Fellows are provided the opportunity to work with documentarians […]

Enhancing My Medical Education Through Photography

John Moses is a primary care pediatrician and a documentary photographer based at Duke University. He has been using documentary photography to explore the intersection of social and medical issues for the last fifteen years. In this talk, Dr. Moses shared his photographs of adolescent parents in North Carolina (published in the book “The Youngest […]

Voices of Hope: The Stories of Hospice Nurses

Duke University Emergency Room Nurses Brian Lupo and Jason Crockett produced this 17-minute podcast, Voices of Hope, as a way to learn about the role that hospice nurses play when patients approach the end of life. Like many, they wondered why nurses would choose to work in a setting in which all of their patients […]

“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.